“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