still life with lunch
I indulge my tongue with baguette and brie
and contemplate a miniature collection
of my life’s best metaphors,
captured in small wooden squares
framed, off-center, in an expanse of
off-white kitchen wall–
spiny shells and chunks of stone
bought or stolen from gritty beaches
and hallowed hillsides;
two miniature totem poles,
stacks of toothy masks eternally
divining and defying;
a ceramic face of serene Kwan Yin,
open hands inserted
in stiff maternal blessing;
a pious, pewter St. Anthony,
haloed, holding the sad Child, and
on the lookout for misplaced keys;
a feather, probably a duck?s
because the wild turkey’s didn’t fit,
and every altar needs a feather;
a brass double dorje, the mate
to the Tibetan bell I ring
in moments of turning
toward thoughts of a box-less future;
and, finally, a crumbling wine bottle cork
on which someone I can?t
remember had printed
in balky blue ballpoint:
Elaine Frankonis 3/04
My life and my poetry — striving for art, settling for whatever it is.
“Live life spherically” is a line from Mona Lisa Smile — a movie a rather liked because it harkened back to my life as it was in the 50s (although I was a couple of years younger than those characters) and I felt good about not having made the assumptions that those girls made about being a successful female. And I really like that one line: Live Life Spherically.
Back in the 50s, being a helper, taking care of others, was not part of my life’s plan. Now it’s one of my primary functions.
But that doesn’t stop me from writing. At the moment, I’m wrestling with the first exercise for the NY State Writers Institute Advanced Poetry Workshop led by poet Eamon Grennon — to write three different 11-line (9 to 13 syllables per line) stanzas based on a assigned Vermeer painting.
A Google search located poems about paintings written by a variety of well-known poets. I find that I like this exercise.
I particularly like this poem by Wislawa Szymborska, “Two Monkeys by Brueghel”:
I keep dreaming of my graduation exam:
in a window sit two chained monkeys,
beyond the window floats the sky,
and the sea splashes.
I am taking an exam on the history of mankind:
I stammer and flounder.
One monkey, eyes fixed upon me, listens ironically,
the other seems to be dozing–
and when silence follows a question,
he prompts me
with a soft jingling of the chain.
Actually, years ago, I wrote a short poem about Renoir’s Peonies.
There are no blossoms real as Renoir’s Peonies.
No rose as red. No red as real.
I would have them for my lover’s table,
to bloom red
as a heart
to the palette knife.
In the meanwhile, I’m also helping to make arrangements for a reunion of a dozen or so of my old Beta Zeta sorority sisters. Most of us haven’t seen each other in more than forty years. I know for a fact that one of them will be participating in the Republican Convention in NYC this summer. We shared an apartment with four other BZers the summer of 1958. That was after my freshman year in college and I didn’t want to go home so I took some courses over the summer. I was 18 and we were all politically liberal. I guess I’d better not talk politics at the reunion. Man, that’s going to be hard!!!
And also, meanwhile, I watch my mother grasp for words, sleep away afternoons, and fret over losing control of everything she fought so hard to hold onto.
Live life spherically. But don’t hold on too tight.