My current project is creating a new class on Native American Indians for a lifelong learning class that begins on March 2. I'm feeding them a combination of video, lecture, discussion, field trips, unusual artifacts, lunches and perhaps an Indian food recipe. The lack of trustworthy material on the indigenous people who lived on the North American continent when explorers came calling is not so difficult to understand. The behaviors aren't a pretty sight even today and few writers see fame and fortune there. This topic fascinates, yet, saddens me.
I grew up believing that one of my great grandmothers was a Cherokee woman and listening to great stories about her. She smoked something in a tiny corncob pipe and I remember her vividly. I visited her often and we drank sassafras tea. I remember when she died. I think I've written of her on the blog in the past. Last year, I discovered that she wasn't an Indian, didn't come from where the stories said and the stories' validity is totally suspect. Secrets and lies -- the basis of intrigue, disappointment, good fiction and poetry.
"Paperman" and "Palm Tree Reflections" look at reality from different angles. In "Paperman," secrets and lies have exploded reality. As the dust settles, the speaker uses a folded newspaper to light a fire and tries to separate the secrets and lies from a reality that remains.
She never knew just when he left,
Or if he was ever there listening
To tree frogs croon a cappella
Summon shy rain showers
While the open-bellied stove
Fractures guileless white coals
One last time,
Child of reckless impulse,
Let’s light a candle for you.
Page One sustains flame and wick
Propels burning words: the final lead
Of this finite edition, just tinder.
What is the paper of your life,
Paperman? Watermarked rag bond
Igniting into cream and azure peaks
Caressing la paysanne with blue smoke
Or does your paper flare like hued-tissue,
Sharp-creased, tucked into an Origami
Whooping crane: ornate, mysterious,
Un oiseau of smoke black like night
Wick spent. Wax melted. Loud rain
Blends in back-up with the tree frog chorus
While wounded coals spit on the grate
Melody and glow insulate her night
Somewhere a flute-like wind whistles
Notes her soul recognizes beyond novenas
Beyond genuflecting some springtime
In a low country night.
Dixie G. GoldenFrom “Wingwalking: Poems” © 2011
"Palm Tree Reflections" also takes the reader inside the speaker's dilemma of dealing with the aftermath of the big two: Secrets and Lies. In my experience, the Big Two create and nourish much stress and emotional pain that we humans endure. Whether we are the source of the secret or lie or merely their guardian, stress and sadness come to us. Sometimes Secrets and Lies invade reality and the light of day and other times, they must remain submerged.
Palm Tree Reflections
Listening to words taking off the page,
I sit between two windows and stare idly
Into the day like a small graying dog waits
For evening. Lazy green palm fronds wave
Against two windows and blur my edges.
So simple, really, just single leaves
Moving in unison, dipping, bending,
Stretching toward any ray of warm light
While the trunk quenches thirst below.
Frond. Stems. Trunk, submerged.
After a seasonal storm roars and rips
Fronds and stems into compost fodder
What makes a trunk sprout new fronds
Over old scars while harvesting less sun?
So simple, really, how we just go on.
Dixie G. Golden
From “Wingwalking: Poems” © 2011