Mikhail Bazankov, giving a speech in Kostroma, Russia. Mikhail and I worked together on Sister Cities Writer Exchanges, 1990-2001. He is 78 and dying of cancer. We won't forget you!
THE OMENS ARRIVE XXIV. August 23, 2015
I have never asked why we were
brought together, quickly knew each other’s
real nature, and couldn’t refuse love when
it burst into flower. It’s our great luxury
which no poverty of spirit can ever take
away. Like a spring sun thawing an
unexpected hard frost, melting the frozen
leaves of violets and chickweed, thawing
the petals of daffodils, letting the tender
peas and onions return to pushing up
their green a little farther each day, we
have been given this unforeseen gift,
this bounty, the grace of mutual love.
May we cherish and honor it until we die.
–The Omens Arrive V.
Be yourself. All the other people are taken. –Oscar Wilde
Where is my serenity? The rock I always
stand on when I’m troubled and need to see?
It must be there. For years I found it easily
whenever I needed to. What fogged me
in? Fear. My aging signs are minimal,
but they buzz around me like a panicked
fly that lands on me when she can’t find
anything else to eat. There’s no doubt
that I’m up against my dreaded bulldozer
enemy. Coal ash trucks could be running
any time through our village. My efforts
to grow food, to make spaghetti sauce,
pickles, and preserves, to pull weeds and
water the vegetables, keep the old hens
and new chicks flourishing, to organize
a benefit plate sale for our legal fund,
seem inadequate, but I do know that
everything I do matters. People count
on me, even love me. I wish I had more
energy, more time, more help, and yet
people arrive with their gifts: weeding
flower beds, offering egg cartons, helping
find donations, writing grants. The zinnias
bloom, the okra and bean plants rise.
Sometimes I lose my balance, and once in
awhile I fall, but I don’t hurt myself. My
forgetting is a nuisance, but if I focus, I
remember. Everything is harder, but I can do
a lot, and others are picking up what I can’t.
There are detractors and skeptics, people
blind where I can see. It comes down to faith,
and I have faith. I always have been good at
spinning my web across an abyss. This is
a big one, but here I go.
Judy on November 20, taken by my sister Margie.