When Sexual Violence Goes Public, an essay by Michael Watson, M.A., Ph.D., LCMHC

Regular Wednesday Writing Prompts will resume on January 3, 2018. This thoughtful piece is shared here with Michael’s permission. It was originally published on his blog, Dreaming the World.

Well, the weather turned warm again, with a bit of rain; now the temperature is dropping slowly and there are hints of blue through the overcast. There are rumors of a snowstorm next week and more before Christmas. We shall see.

Here in North America we tend to forget how pervasive sexual violence is, and how retraumatizing public conversations about sexual abuse and harassment can be for victims of sexual crimes.

This was brought home to me again yesterday while speaking with a colleague in Boston. She works with severely traumatized individuals and spoke about her clients’ experiences of retraumatization due to the recent flood of sexual assault accusations against prominent men. We agreed the resulting, much-needed, public discussion about sexual assault has resulted in a cascade of memories and fear for our clients. This adds to the retraumatization caused by the behavior of government officials who seem Hell-bent on glamorizing sexual assault while destroying the social framework. We also agreed we are experiencing much increased anxiety as we try to understand how to provide some sense of safety to our clients and ourselves in an increasingly difficult social environment.

Not surprisingly, our culture’s focus on sexual assaults and intimidation by males has felt isolating for clients who were abused or harassed by women. Somehow we as a society appear to have once again lost sight of the uncomfortable fact that women can also be abusive. Perhaps there is less attention to assaults by women simply because abuse and harassment at the hands of women appears to be underreported in general. In addition, men, particularly, report experiencing more shame when speaking of being abused by women and are, thus, more reticent to report being assaulted.

The sad truth is that people of all genders are capable of harming others when given the opportunity. Further, such abuses become more frequent when openly, or tacitly, accepted by communities. I’m sure we will hear much more about sexual abuse by persons with power in the days to come. How we respond is crucial.

© 2017, Michael Watson, essay and photograph, All rights reserved


Michael Watson

MICHAEL WATSON, LCMHC (Dreaming the World) is a poet of the spirit, if not of the pen, and a contributing editor to The BeZine, an essayist and a practitioner of the Shamanic arts, psychotherapist, educator and artist of Native American and European descent.

Michael lives and works in Burlington, Vermont,where he is retired from his teaching position in undergraduate and graduate programs at Burlington College. He was once Dean of Students there. He also had wonderful experiences teaching in India and Hong Kong, which he’s documented on his blog, Dreaming the World. In childhood Michael had polio, an event that taught him much about challenge, struggle, isolation, and healing.


ABOUT THE POET BY DAY

 

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“Repenting Peter” (El Greco) …. and other responses to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt


This may be one of our finest collections yet, poetry written and/or shared in response to Ecce Panis [Take This Bread], Wednesday Writing Prompt, December 6, “What event or experience or time in your life (doesn’t have to be associated with religion) birthed for you the freedom to explore beyond the boundaries set for you?” These poets have certainly risen to the occasion. Much thanks to  Denise DeVries, Paul Brookes, Mike Stone, bogpan (Bozhidar Pangelov), Gary W. Bowles and Sonja Benskin Mesher.

Join THE NEXT WRITING PROMPT, JANUARY 3, 2018. Once I put The BeZine to bed on the 15th, I’ll be offline for family time and taking a rest until January 3. Many blessings for joy in this season that is sacred to so many and for your peace of heart in the new year.

Thank you for your support, kind comments and sharing through The Poet by Day site this past year. In a world gone mad, you are the hope, the grace, and the voices of sanity. Poetry is the flagpole around which we gather in compassion and acceptance.  You are valued.

All are welcome to come out to play for these writing prompts no matter the stage of your poetry career: beginning, emerging or pro.  It’s about sharing and friendship, discretion not judgement.


A Town Where Nothing Ever Happens

I lived in a small landlocked town
and would probably never go anywhere.
My parents rejected the foreign
language teacher’s offered lessons.
They didn’t like the looks of him.
Something could happen…
Years later, I find myself
in Central America, in a town
where nothing ever happens,
except me, trying to speak Spanish.
In the market, the black
head of a calf stares up at me.
A tiny tiny old woman in
native dress embraces me
and kisses my hand, speaking
a language I’ve never heard before.
Beggars wait on cathedral steps
for the priest to finish asking God
in his North American accent,
“Quita los pecados del mundo.
Danos paz.” The children want
to know why I am crying.

© 2017, Denise Aileen DeVries (Bilocalalia)


Path Of Seeds

O, Lady of the breath,
selfish and in control

you decide the path of seeds
you carry and drop in my grove.

Landscape architect place
an acorn here, a daisy here,
chestnut over there. No negotiation.

Blow my intricate clocks into half spheres,
my Sycamore immigrants spin
through your gusts.

Shoot moss into these worn mortared walls.
Broadcast grass between these carefully
laid pavements.

With you I have no choice
you deliver into me
whatever you hold.

I welcome your unexpected gifts

© 2017, Paul Brookes   (The Wombwell Rainbow, Inspiration, History, Imagination)

O, Lady Of The Breath (Six Vacanas)

1. You Rise

from my forest and leave
out of the gob and earth falls.

It shivers renewed,

welcomes a similar you
into my gob.

You excite my spring buds,
allow the earth to rise, again.

2. Can’t Let

you stay long in the dark,
or the earth will rot.

I can’t let you out for long,
or the earth will rot.

Let’s follow this pattern.
I’ll briefly allow you into my dark wood,

But please don’t take woodsmoke, car fumes,
coal dust, iron filings, water in with you,

else I’ll hack you out. These companions
quicken the rot.

3. Help With The

tasting snake in my cave
form the words I need to say.

Take my words out into air
loud enough for others to hear.

Please don’t say you are weak
and can’t carry such a weight.

Please don’t say I failed to welcome
enough of you into the forest.

4. My Dad Let You

in with pungent watercolours on his back,
stink of Clwyd cowpats and fresh mountain air,

but when he scraped boilers you secretly
took into his forest asbestosis strands

that speed his rot and ruin. I can’t understand
your thought in all of this

5. My Sister Threw You

out over her steering wheel,
her forest crushed by molded plastic.

She tried to welcome you back
but the wood was gone,

so you gust over her grave
under an overseeing tree.

O, my lady of the breath.
I welcome your coming and going.

6. Your Cheyne Stokes

delay before my unconscious Nanna
let you in.

I waited a minute, a 10-20
second episode of
stopped breath

suddenly her welcome
let you in

deeper and again
deeper in and out.

then delay

then delay

then delay

her welcome of you
and delay I watched seven days

until she refused your entry for good.

© 2017, Paul Brookes  (The Wombwell Rainbow, Inspiration, History, Imagination)


“Beliefs”
(Raanana, December 4, 2016)

That I know what my wife is feeling,
That my love will be enough to protect her
From the lovelessness around her,
That my particular being might have some worth
In the eye of the Grand Schemer of Things,
That the sun will climb over the eastern mountains tomorrow,
That the ground on which I walk
Is as solid as any reality,
These are small beliefs I think
That won’t hurt anyone else,
At least I don’t believe so.
But there are grander beliefs
That grow stronger
With every man and woman who believes them,
That only the grandest edifices
Can house them,
These beliefs,
Like who’s a chosen people
And who’s a virgin, an only son, or a true prophet,
Beliefs that hurt those who don’t believe them.
These are the beliefs I don’t believe
Are any good for anything
That’s not a building.

© 2016, Mike Stone (Uncollected Works)

“An Agnostic’s Prayer”
(Raanana, January 23, 2014)

Just for the record
I don’t believe in you
So there’s no point in capitalizing, is there?
That doesn’t mean I don’t wish you were
Here, there, somewhere.
God knows I do,
Well, maybe not the you
Of everybody else.
You know exactly what I mean,
Someone who’s not always
Making clever excuses
Why he’s never around
When we need him.
I’d like to see you try that on my wife.
She wouldn’t fall for it.
She’d tell you
You’re either here or you’re not here,
So don’t bother trying to be
Somewhere in between.
She’d say if you want someone to believe in you
Then be there, front and center,
Instead of hiding behind the guy
Who’s hiding behind the curtain
Hoodwinking the true believers.
Then tell them they have only
One life in this godforsaken universe
And that one life is so gut-twistingly precious
That they should get up off their knees,
Walk out into the sunshine,
And smell just how blue the sky is.

© 2014, Mike Stone (Uncollected Works)


“A Lasting Image”
(Raanana, April 5, 2008)

Frozen shards of light litter the dusty ground and
The moon-colored skulls of creatures whose blood
Once warmed the earth and sated its thirst
If only for a moment.
There is a trail I must follow
Through this forest dark and mordant
That snakes its wending way from
The womb of my first love
To the parched throat of my last.
I think sometimes of the ancient ones
And the things of their world
Of which they were certain.
It is not so hard to believe in a God,
An animus for every animal
Or a hoary herald above the spheres.
But a monstrous God
Who plots to devour our innocence
And rend our hearts with the cruel beauty of its beings,
Indifferent yet demanding our prayers and oblations;
Such a God I believe in:
A God of holocausts and broken promised lands.

© 2008, Mike Stone (Uncollected Works)

“A Certain Silence”
(Raanana, September 22, 2015)

There is a certain silence
On a day like this
That carries you on its wide wings
But only those whose souls are weightless
A silence that muffles the shouts of children
And banal chatter of adults on mundane matters
But only for those whose souls are transparent
A silence that vows to be true
Even when we live among lies
But only among those
Whose souls are consumed by other souls.

© 2008, Mike Stone (Uncollected Works)


The Repentant Peter (El Greco c. 1600 Spain), Phillips Collection, Washington D.C., U.S., public domain photograph of the painting

Repenting Peter (El Greco)

since as
everything is Uttered
a land to even up
the eye
you touch grope about
the walls
more and more high
(on) cracks
the third road is the hardest
nowhere somewhere
the third road is the easiest
am I
I
cursed
cursing
swear
in net
(Peter)

“that the mighty angel tugs
along with net of fishermen”*

*Giorgos. Seferis (Greek poet and diplomate)

© 2017, bogpan  (bogpan – блог за авторска поезия)


Pheidippides Defiant

A legend has
A courier
Who ran and ran
And told, and died,
Per Lucian,
Pheidippides’
“We win–rejoice!”
The dying words
Of this young man.

A summer day
In ’84
Ten thousand ran
On Market Street,
And skirted San
Francisco Bay,
And saw through fog
The Golden Gate,
And past its Park,
And up a hill
So steep a man
In wheelchair
Went but four in-
Ches at a time.

We crossed the thrice-
Blessed Finish Line
At Union Square
To cheering crowds,
To honor dead
Pheidippides,
Who, truth be told,
Did not exist,
Or, if he did,
Not quite the way
The legend tells.

But there WAS strife
In ancient Greece,
And Persians died
At Marathon,
The site now known
As the event,
A footrace long
and arduous.
And when I ran
In ’84,
I briefly WAS
Pheidippides,
Defiant of
Impossible,
Horizon breached,
My battle won,
And I rejoiced
And did not die.

© 2017, Gary W. Bowles (One With Clay)


. no horizontal line .

early it came,where there are no roads, no silent killer.

spinning. set me free. let me see swallows return to

nest.

let us cause a reaction, turn our heads quickly. no one

is looking, there is no one here. we are not afraid of

the night.

we spin.

soft cottons, whimsy thread, mothlike.

turn about hour on hour. your time is

come.

we spin.

to spite silent killers.

© 2017, Sonja Benskin Mesher  (Sonja Benskin Mesher, RCA and Sonja’s Drawings)

. tudor .

it seems that in moving the body we can free the mind, from one place to another. slightly out of focus.

time is moving forward.

that is the theory……

© 2017, Sonja Benskin Mesher  (Sonja Benskin Mesher, RCA and Sonja’s Drawings)


ABOUT THE POET BY DAY

SUNDAY ANNOUNCEMENTS: Calls for Submissions, Contests, Events and Other Information and News

CALLS FOR SUBMISSIONS

Opportunity Knocks

BELLETRIST MAGAZINE is a literary arts journal published out of Bellevue College in Washington state that publishes fiction, nonfiction and poetry online and in print. No submission fees. Details HERE.

DIAPHANOUS PRESS (poetry, short fiction, visual arts) next publication date and window for submissions to be announced. Details HERE.

HUB CITY WRITERS PROJECT, independent press of the American South, publishes eight titles per year of literary fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, regional nonfiction, nature and art. Query only and only March/April and September/October via Submittable. Details HEREThere is also an interest in “emerging visual artists, illustrators and photographers for book cover collaborations.”

STORM CELLAR, a literary journal of safety and danger, emphasises the Midwestern United States, writing and art. “Two to three issues per year in print and ebook. Free samples up weekly-ish ….  Storm Cellar is not wholly serious; whimsy and humor are recurring features in its pages.” Details HERE. (Note: also hosts an annual contest, which usually closes in April. Watch the site for announcements.)

THE BeZINE, Be Inspired, Be Creative, Be Peace, Be December issue – themed Spirituality (Spiritual Paradigms, Awakenings, Miracles) call for December issue submissions closes today at 11:59 p.m. PST NEW RULES: Please send text in the body of the email not as an attachment. Send submissions to me (Jamie) at bardogroup@gmail.com. Publication is December 15th. Poetry, essays, fiction and creative nonfiction, art and photography, music (videos or essays), and whatever lends itself to online presentation is welcome for consideration.  No demographic restrictions. Please read at least one issue and the Intro/Mission Statement and Submission Guidelines. We DO NOT publish anything that promotes hate, divisiveness or violence or that is scornful or in any way dismissive of “other” peoples.

The BeZine will go to a quarterly schedule in 2018:

  • March 2018 issue, Deadline February 10th. Theme: Peace.
  • June 2018 issue, Deadline May 10th. Theme: Sustainability
  • September 2018 issue, Deadline August 10th, Theme: Human Rights/Social Justice
  • December 2018 issue, Deadline November 10th, Theme: A Life of the Spirit

Suggestions for sub-themes are still being reviewed. Send yours to thebardogroup@gmail.com. (Current suggestions awaiting review by the team include: domestic abuse, eckphrastic poetry, the meaning/importance of poetry, and restorative justice.)

The BeZine is an entirely volunteer effort, a mission. It is not a paying market but neither does it charge submission or subscription fees.

Previously published work may be submitted if you hold the copyright. Submissions from beginning and emerging artists as well as pro are encouraged and we have a special interest in getting more submissions short stores, feature articles, music videos and art.

WORLD LITERATURE TODAY, published by the University of Oklahoma, was founded in 1927 and publishes essays, book reviews, fiction, poetry, and interviews.  Guidelines HERE.

Xi DRACONIS BOOKS has an open call for creative nonfiction book manuscript submissions for its 2018 production year. Its reading period for 2019 for all genres (novellas, novels, short story collections, memoirs, essay collections, long-form poems, and poetry collections) runs from May 15-August 15, 2018. Details HERE.


CONTESTS

ASSOCIATION OF WRITERS & WRITING PROGRAM (AWP), The Kurt Brown Prizes, for emerging writers in fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction “who wish to attend a writers’ conference, center, retreat, festival, or residence.”  The prizes ($500) are applied to fees for winners to attend on of the” AWP,s Directory of Conference & Centers. Submissions through March 30, 2018. Details HERE.

HUB CITY WRITERS PROJECT, South Carolina Novel Prize, opens to novels from South Carolina only. Submissions begin January 1, 2018. Details HERE.

HUB CITY WRITERS PROJECT, C. Michael Curtis Short Story Book Prize for emerging writers in thirteen Southern states closes January 1, 2018 at noon EST. Award $10,000 and book publication. Details HERE.

SPECTURM Publication house, UK, Weekly Contest. Topic dozen. Through Tuesday, December 12th. International English or Hindi Poetry. Certificate awarded for participation. Post to their Facebook page HERE.

SPECIAL FOR STUDENTS (U.S.)

POETRY OUT LOUD sponsors school-wide, regional, state and national contests to encourage “students to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. This program helps students master public speaking sills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life.” $50,000 in awards for students’ schools. Details HERE.


World Literature Today HERE.  Recommended.


EVENTS

  • Together for the First Time: Four Visceral Contemporary Poets, Philip Fried; Rachel Eliza Griffiths; Richard Hoffman; D. Nurkse tonight at The Cornelia Street Cafe, 29 Cornelia Street, New York, 212-989-9319,  6 p.m. $10 admission includes a drink. Details HERE.
  • Hear Stories! Tell Stories! with Jean le Bec, Asher Novek, Thomas Pryor, and Gianmarco Soresti Tuesday, December 12 at The Cornelia Street Cafe, 29 Cornelia Street, New York, 212-989-9319, 6 p.m. also open mic with sign-up. $10 admission includes a drink. Details HERE.
  • 2018 MASS POETRY FESTIVAL (“Mass” as in Massachusetts), MAY 4-6. Details HERE.
  • VERVE, A Birmingham (England) Festival of Poetry & Spoken Word, February 15 – 18, 2017. Details HERE.
  • The Annikki Poetry Festival, “one of Finland’s foremost poetry eventS … has expanded to also include prose, music and the visual arts.” June 9, 2018.  Details on the Festival’s Facebook page and its website.

Tomorrow night in Israel:



Accessible anytime from anywhere in the world:

  • The Poet by Day always available online with poems, poets and writers, news and information.
  • The Poet by Day, Wednesday Writing Prompt, online every week (except for vacation) and all are invited to take part no matter the stage of career (emerging or established) or status (amateur or professional). Poems related to the challenge of the week (always theme based not form based) will be published here on the following Tuesday.
  • The Poet by Day, Sunday Announcements. Every week (except for vacation) opportunity knocks for poets and writers.
  • THE BeZINE, Be Inspired, Be Creative, Be Peace, Be – always online HERE.  
  • Beguine Again, daily inspiration and spiritual practice  – always online HERE.  Beguine Again is the sister site to The BeZine.

KUDOS TO:

  • Amy Barry for publication in A New Ulster.
  • Kinga Fabó for the publication of six poems in French in an international magazine, The Opiate.
  • Myra Schneider for the latest of fourteen collections, Lifting The Sky,  which is on the theme of survival [from every viewpoint – all to relevant in these times] to be published next autumn Ward Wood Publishing (U.K.). Will announce here at The Poet by Day or follow Myra’s poetry site HERE.

NEWS AND INFORMATION


SPECIAL REQUEST (deadline today at 11:59 p.m. PST): More and more magazines are charging submission fees and these are in some cases going up. The highest I encountered recently was $23 for the submission of one poem. Sometimes the publication pays writers and poets. Sometimes it doesn’t. This is not new, of course. Its been going on for some years now. It makes me wonder how much of a barrier that creates for writers. I’m collecting material on how you feel about these charges as a poet/writer and/or editor. Fair? Not fair? Okay depending on rate? Okay depending on whether they pay poets and writers? That sort of thing. I do plan to share the results of this informal survey at The Poet by Day. I won’t quote you by name without first getting your permission. Please let me know your thoughts about submission fees in the comments section below or by email: thepoetbyday@gmail.com.  Thank you! J.D.

Related:


YOUR SUNDAY ANNOUNCEMENTS may be emailed to thepoetbyday@gmail.com. Please do so at least a week in advance.

If you would like me to consider reviewing your book, chapbook, magazine or film, here are some general guidelines:

  • send PDF to jamiededes@gmail.com (Note: I have a backlog of six or seven months, so at this writing I suggest you wait until June 2018 to forward anything. Thank you!)
  • nothing that foments hate or misunderstanding
  • nothing violent or encouraging of violence
  • English only, though Spanish is okay if accompanied by translation
  • though your book or other product doesn’t have to be available through Amazon for review here, it should be easy for readers to find through your site or other venues.

TO CONTACT ME WITH ANNOUNCEMENTS AND OTHER INFORMATION FOR THE POET BY DAY: thepoetbyday@gmail.com

TO CONTACT ME REGARDING SUBMISSIONS FOR THE BeZINE: bardogroup@gmail.com

PLEASE do not mix the communications between the two.


Often information is just thatinformation – and not necessarily recommendation. I haven’t worked with all the publications or other organizations featured in my regular Sunday Announcements or other announcements shared on this site. Awards and contests are often (generally) a means to generate income, publicity and marketing mailing lists for the host organizations, some of which are more reputable than others. I rarely attend events anymore. Caveat Emptor: Please be sure to verify information for yourself before submitting work, buying products, paying fees or attending events et al.


ABOUT THE POET BY DAY

 

The Damask Rose Garden, another story from The City of Ultimate Bliss

Damask Rose


This part of the story is complete in itself but if you’d like you can read the first part of The City of Ultimate Bliss HERE.

In all her nine years, she’d never seen him at her mother’s shop. He carried something large and brown and tied with string. That was the first thing Habah noticed. The second was that her mother’s gaze and that of the man’s were locked.

Habah studied the man. There was a warm familiarity about him. She couldn’t quite place it. When he smiled at her, she felt suddenly light-headed. The moment acquired the quality of an enchantment. She would happily have rested in that moment forever but her mother sent her back home … and home she went of course, though she wasn’t happy to go.

Who is he? Her mind wouldn’t stop its traveling. She only ceased to speculate when she found her grandmother digging through their old wooden trunk. Her grandmother retrieved a worn sepia photograph. In it Habah’s mother stood shyly beside a man who looked like he could be the younger brother of the man in her mother’s shop. That’s when Hannah knew who he was. She knew why the moment was enchanted. The ultimate bliss she had dreamed of and yearned for had arrived in her city, as she always knew he must.

Nonetheless, she was stunned. The tension that had held her together all these years crashed and fell in tidal waves around her. Her eyes rained rivulets down her checks and neck wetting the clean white collar her grandmother had taken such pains to starch and iron.

The old grandmother took Habah in her arms, rocked her gently and sang to her in the language of that other land on the other side of the world, the place from which they’d come. When Habah’s tears had subsided, her grandmother gave her sweet hot tea and tucked her into bed. Habah’s emotions rocked her to sleep.

When Habah awoke, she found him sitting on her bed. He was holding her hand as though it was a precious thing. When he saw she was awake, the light of his joy beamed from eyes so like her own. Where have you been, Father? I have been waiting for you all my life. Every night I call to the moon and ask her to tell you of my longing. From that very moment, on those notes of pain and love, Habah and her father began to restore the years life had stolen.

Their house soon wrapped itself around Habah’s father. All the empty spaces were filled. Habah’s mother’s face was softer and her grandmother smiled more. Her uncle, Ammu Dani, was happy too. Her father walked her to school in the mornings and the other children saw that Habah wasn’t a liar. She did indeed have a father.

Now, safely cocooned in the ultimate bliss of her father’s affection, the evenings were carved of magic, not yearning. She would sit by the window with him, watching the moon, no longer needing to talk to it. While they sat making up the years, her father would tell her stories to sleep on. Her favorite was the one about the prince and the princess.

Once upon a time, he told her, in the manner that all good stories begin, there was a prince and a princess. They were very much in love. They built a cottage to live in not far from the sea. They planted a garden of damask roses that thrived alongside their lemon tree and sturdy mint.

The prince and princess would tend the damask garden knowing that no others had ever been happier than they. The only thing that was missing was a child. The princess would say that a garden is not complete without a child and a child is not complete without a garden. Finally, out of their love a baby was born. They named their baby Delight. She was perfect with ten perfect fingers and ten perfect toes. Their little girl seemed happy in the damask garden, seemed to love the scent of the roses and little sips of lemonade with honey and mint.

One day an evil man came to their village. He was a man who breathed fire and brandished swords. He said he hated love and hated happiness. He kidnapped the prince and locked him in a dungeon. He rattled his swords at the princess and Delight and set the devouring heat of his insanity upon them. In order to keep Delight safe, the princess wrapped her in a warm blanket and stole sadly away in the night. Clutching her daughter and her heartache, the princess searched for a place to make home. She found refuge in a strange new world where she was sure the evil man would never find them but where she prayed the prince someday would.

The prince for his part escaped the evil man’s dungeon. He went back to the cottage one last time. He cut a ripe lemon in half and put its seeds in two small pots of dirt. He pulled up some mint and tucked it into another pot. He prepared cuttings from the damask roses they loved so much. With great care he wrapped these treasures in burlap and tied the package with string. Then he took one last look around. Hot tears dripped and dried in salty streaks down his checks. The prince wiped his eyes and with a deep breath and a determined stride, he set off to find the princess and Delight.

The journey to find his family was long and arduous. The prince had to pass through several foreign lands and cross an ocean or two. He had many adventures, not all of them good. At towns along the way, he found work to pay for the next leg of his journey. All the while and with great difficulty he cared for the little garden treasures wrapped in burlap.

One day after traveling for some time, the prince arrived in the city the princess had chosen as their new home. When he at long last held the princess and their daughter in his arms, the prince’s sore heart ceased aching. He was so overjoyed he nearly forgot about the traveling plants, but he did remember and together with the princess soon had them unpacked and planted. As the new damask garden flourished so did Delight. They all lived happily ever after because that’s what princes and princesses do.

Habah soon learned this story by heart and stored it away there for safekeeping.

*****

Time walked on and Habah’s family thrived. Her father got a part-time job as a carpenter. He began helping with the store and learning the language of their new country. He put his carpentry skills to good use making needed repairs to their home. Her mother and grandmother giggled and joked through their daily routines. Out of his savings, Ammu Dani bought paint. Everyone took a brush in hand to refresh the house.

The mysterious package wrapped in rough fabric held a young lemon tree, some mint and slips of damask roses. Her parents planted everything in the back yard. The lemon tree grew little by little. Her father said it would be awhile until it bore fruit. The mint did what its nature calls it to do. It began to take over the garden. The rose bushes her mother so loved were clearly happy, They put out a few intrepid pink flowers.

On summer evenings Habah’s family sat in their garden. They sipped lemonade with honey and mint. They ate salty cheese and olives with her grandmother’s homemade bread. The garden at dusk was Habah’s favorite place and time, the liminal time when the sun is setting and the moon is rising. As the light grew tender her parents would relax from the labors of their day. They would sit together, often holding hands. Her father would smile and wink at Habah as she played.

Habah’s mother, Laila, was more beautiful than ever. Habah noticed that her mother’s breasts had grown plump and her tummy round. It made Habah smile to know their new baby would play in a damask rose garden and would know nothing of life without the ultimate bliss.

Dedicated to all refugees – all the families that have been split apart – in the sad recognition that unlike Habah and her family many will not find one another and most will probably not find safe haven.  “More displaced now than after the Second World War …The total at the end of 2015 reached 65.3 millionor one out of every 113 people on Earth, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).” CNN HERE 

May all sentient beings find peace.

This is entirely fiction and not meant to represent any specific person or persons.

© 2017, story, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; photo credit rose جواد under CC BY-SA 3.0; photo credit lemon tree Elena Chochkova under GFDL