Sunday, July 7, 2019

Rocking Chair Rocking

“Language is the only homeland.” ~ Czeslaw Milosz 

“[A] collective noun for ravens is an unkindness. This is somewhat puzzling to Thought and Memory.” ~ Diane Setterfield 

“This was the time for story telling, for rocking chair rocking…” ~ Hugh Stanley

When I decided that the theme for this month’s Telling Tales with Magaly Guerrero was going to be “Away from Home”, I did so because, well… I was away from home. This is the perfect excuse to write about my trip, I thought. But storytelling is alive, and living things tend to feed on what they see and feel and experience and more… So, a single glimpse of Kerry’s Art Flash/55 altered my scheme.

Kerry offers Anarh1a’s portrayal of Chernobog and Belobog (Slavic gods in the shape of falcons), which my mind turned into ravens, which morphed into Huginn and Muninn, which Thought of the sounds of a “rocking chair rocking” (in my grandmother’s kitchen), which brewed the Memory of “My Dominican Breakfast” (the poem that birthed  today’s story), which is set in one of the homes forever living in my heart).

In my case, Czeslaw Milosz was mostly correct, “Language is the only homeland.” And writing this slice of life (slice of memory?) lets me live (even if for just a moment) in one of the homes I can always inhabit through Thought and Memory and Words…

the story: “Rocking Chair Rocking”

As sunlight starts bathing the tops of mango and coconut trees, a girl and a boy watch green bananas boiling in their grandmother’s cauldron.

“Fire and water are music to bananas,” the girl says. “Look how they dance.”

“You’re crazy.” The boy rolls his eyes. “They’re running ‘cause the water’s so hot.”

They are dancing,” the girl yells.

“Running,” the boy shouts in the girl’s face.

The girl wipes her face with the back of a hand and brings up her fists.

The boy mirrors the girl’s stance.

The grandmother, who knows her grandchildren from thought to bone, says, “The next mouth that talks drivel gets two cups of goat tea and zero cups of ginger.”

Words still under tongues. For at least three minutes, the only sounds come out of crackling logs and the girl’s rumbling belly. Neither child wants to risk a larger portion of goat tea, which they swear is made from bitter herbs and unwashed feet.

Pointing at the girl’s eyes, the boy smirks in triumph.

The girl glares at the boy, but smooths her features before walking closer to the grandmother and raising a hand.

“Mhm?” the grandmother says, adding lemongrass to the tea pot.

“I smeared my penicillin by accident.” The girl shows the back of her hand.

“Wash your eyes again, then take your remedies to my rocking chair. I’ll bring tea.”

“You get my goat tea,” the boy whispers in the girl’s ear.

“Now who’s mad?” the girl says, winking at the boy.

The delight brightening the girl’s face robs the boy of his victory.

The grandmother glances at the children and chuckles.

Frowning, the boy says, “She’s gonna drink my goat tea! Right?”

The girl runs off grinning like the cat that never swallows singing birds, since she knows tastier things will be offered if she opens her eyes and ears before her mouth.

more wee notes

- to read “My Dominican Breakfast(the poem behind the story), follow the link

- I rarely craft tales in the present tense. But I just read an article that said that one should never write in the present… So, of course, my Muse and I felt rebellious

- goat tea was a bitter and all-around disgusting (but quite effective) concoction my Grandma used to brew (every single day!) to treat my gut issues and other people’s stuffs

-  the title is a quote from “Nostalgia”, a story written by my Father-in-Law years ago. I read it while I was away, and the rocking chair bit, plus imagery that included a grandparent and a pipe, made me miss my childhood home—I can’t think rocking chair or pipe without seeing my Grandmother. I suspect my current eyeball issues might’ve touched the ink a bit, too… Nostalgia is a weird mistress

- written for the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads (Art FLASH/55) and Poets United (Telling Tales with Magaly Guerrero: a Pantry of Prose, #5 ~ Away from Home)

Fogón, by William Frielson
find more of the work of this Dominican artist’s work here


  1. I enjoyed reading the background to this story as much as I enjoyed the story itself, Magaly. I like that you took your title from the Hugh Stanley quote, but it has instilled in me a desire for a rocking chair. I had one many years ago and I think it’s time I had another one. I also love that your poem birthed a story – that seems to happen with me too. I think my favourite image from the story is bananas dancing in fire and water – they’re most definitely dancing! And a phrase I’d like to take away is to know someone ‘from thought to bone’.

  2. This was a delightful read, full of life. I can SEE the children, and the wise grandma. Drinking tea that tastes like feet sounds awful, but grandmas know the old remedies. I remember being encased in a "mustard plaster" back in the day. As a treat, some afternoons my grandma would pull the rocking chair into the living room, so i could listen to Maggie Muggins on the radio, and rock.

  3. This is incredibly heartfelt, Magaly dearest 💖 I love the image of sunlight bathing "the tops of mango and coconut trees," and enjoyed the playful banter between the children. The poem "My Dominican Breakfast," is exquisite and helped me glue the heartbits together that formed this story.💖

  4. I really love the way this evolved from your interpretation of the art to the story you have told. It is bitter sweet, with a dash of burn, like bananas, goat tea and ginger, I suspect. I also loved your quotes. Thanks for everything, Mag.

  5. Goat tea sounds like a frightful threat! When my brother and I were young, if we got sick, my father gave us golden seal tea. It's the most bitter, awful stuff, tastes like furniture polish smells. I suppose as horrible as it tasted, it must have had some sort of microbe-killing properties.

  6. What I liked about this especially was the way you portrayed the relationships between your grandmother, brother, and you. The sibling relationship seems typically competitive, and the grandmother seems to be very warm and wise. I am glad you explained at the end what goat tea was. It sounds dreadful, but helpful. A good eyes and ears before one to remember!

  7. You know how to fill every word with delight, Magaly! Black, white, pleasure, pain, everything is always bathed in joy in your writings. Absolutely amazing!
    We also make mouthwatering curry with green bananas and banana flowers. Pure Bengali delights :)

  8. I giggled at the quarrelsome children. That's a scene very familiar to me. Little ones who aren't feeling well snipe at each other so easily. I like the grandmother's combination of firmness and fondness for her young charges. The personalities are perfectly done.

  9. This is a really delightful tale to read. loved that sibling rivalry!
    liked to learn about other cultures and their traditional remedies. goat tea sounds gross, but i think it works very well. just like our dried cockroaches and super bitter pills..

  10. I really enjoyed that sibling love, even when it's quarrelsome, under the watchful and loving eye of a grandmother. There's so much warmth and love in this story, and nothing beats the feel of granny's rocking chair. It's so true, "can always inhabit [any of our homes] through Thought and Memory and Words."

    The inspiration behind this story is a story on its own. I shall look closely at [Your] Dominican Breakfast (poem) it's sounds delectable. Wonderful write and memories!

  11. You nailed the siblings! What a warm slice of life you have gifted to us! Thank you!

  12. This is such a delightful read and an insight into a slice of life when you were young. Delightful Magaly!

  13. I never had brothers or sisters or children so I don't know about the children squabbling. But I did so enjoy the bananas dancing. That is epic! That made me grin hugely. What a wonder your grandmother must have been. I have my grandmother's rocking chair in the living room. My mother sat there before she died and enjoyed it so much. She missed it when she went into the nursing facility so I took it there for her. Rocking chairs are the most magical. There is so much love in this story.

  14. Such an enjoyable read here, so thank you for posting.

  15. I do remember me and my sister quarreling (or maybe it was more me teasing here)... maybe with some goat tea served I would have been a better boy. I was even spared the cod liver oil my parents used to get.

  16. Oh, the beauty of art. We each have our own vision on anything we are prompted to write. Love your version.I love the ending. I needed some goat tea to keep my girls silent for a bit when they were young. lol

  17. I enjoyed the short story and the bits before and after. I'm curious about the bananas in the cauldron... what dish was grandma cooking?

  18. This took me back to the constant battles between my elder brother and me. Mind you when I was that age (under 10) we ate absolutely everything that was offered as food was rationed and often unavailable! Goat tea probably would have been acceptable in our house! I loved the tale very much Magaly.

  19. as always, this piece ensnared me into a moment of calm and restful nostalgia. my memories are different than yours and my settings are in Mexico but you still hooked me. this 'little' story opened a window of time of an innocent time not yet bastardized by the accrued angst and anguishes of life. Gracias

  20. I loved the story of the girl and boy and their grandmother. I enjoyed the poem too, and am fascinated by the way each is its own entity. The world is better for both of them existing.

  21. Dancing. Definitely dancing, just like the words. :)

  22. Thank you for inviting us into the Cocina of your youth. I'm still over here weepy on nostalgia of the places and people we left behind with the move. I have small rocking chair from my Abuela sitting in the room bringing up future stories maybe🤗

  23. This was a treat to read. I especially loved,
    “The grandmother, who knows her grandchildren from thought to bone, “.

  24. I felt like I was there! ♥

    And this made me laugh out loud:

    " I rarely craft tales in the present tense. But I just read an article that said that one should never write in the present… So, of course, my Muse and I felt rebellious."

    I think I may have woohoo-ed as well! ;D ♥ ♥ ♥

  25. Magaly, through your flash fiction, found myself, about my oma and how she handled us, her grandchildren. For her, hot chocolate was the universal cure for the universe ailments. Last weekend marked the 23 anniversary of her death from cancer, at the age of 89 years old. I so do miss her hugs and offering of cookies, whenever we visited her. And disappointment, when I refuse it.

  26. I love your writing, Magaly, you're an excellent writer!

  27. Your delightful story put me there and now I am wondering what goat tea tastes like. I already don't like it, thanks to you and your sibling squabbling. :)

  28. You made me smile! Thank you my friend! I still would like to try goat tea! LOL! Big Hugs!


If you write it with heart, I shall read it with soul.