Candles & Blackbirds – Traveling
Blow them out, the nay-sayers, the mockers, belittlers.
No, you didn’t make it into my chorus. Try again next year.
No advice, no encouragement, no nothing. Go away!
No dear, these candles you don’t blow out. Why not? Well, they’re meant to burn at least for a day – a full day – until tomorrow night. They are a memorial. A way to remember her, him, them. Yiskor.
Who are you remembering? My mother, my father, and your other grandparents, too. I’m remembering some people also who have no one to remember them. I remember them.
But mostly, I remember her… and him. No encouragement. She could’ve taken pride in my inheritance, the skills she had, and could’ve nourished in me. She might as well have said: “Go Away”.
He taught me how to write, but took no pleasure in my creations. Perfection is expected. A job well done is as it should be.
Are you sure you want to send that? Well, yes… I was; maybe not… what’s wrong with it? No, it’s just a first draft, a first impression, a trivial thing, a joke, a lark…
She knew of red-winged blackbirds. That’s all she knew. Her mother noted them with glee when she sighted one. She followed her mother’s arm and finger… through the window pane, searching the branches for this newly-important thing. An American ritual.
Where they lived before, no one noticed birds nor pointed them out, nor took pleasure in naming them. That world was different. In Buenos Aires, she spoke Spanish and there were many noisy, smelly taxis idling. There were cocktail parties, women in saris, men in turbans, roasting cows on open spits, lots of ashtrays, undisturbed siestas, and a cook, a laundress, and maids. Her mother was elegant. Dinner parties, clinking glasses, loud conversations that made no sense, and outbursts of laughter. For her… dinner was in the kitchen, with Angelita, while the grown-ups entertained.
New Jersey was another world. Here, her mother wore Bermuda shorts, shopped for lawnmowers at Sears, planted gardens. Still, many ashtrays– always full… but the family wallpapered rooms, roasted chestnuts, read the Sunday papers… and pointed out red-winged blackbirds.
How did her mother become some altered? Was it the air, the hemisphere? Were we upside-down, or had it been a dream?