It popped open with a windy whoosh and the snap of its ribs. But from the spectator’s perspective, no one seemed to be beneath it! Sitting on a bench on the Malecon, she rubbed her eyes and looked again.
It was royal blue, and so silky that she knew it must be a sunbrella, and could protect, not from rain, but from the intense Mexican rays. On its edge was a narrow golden band looking rich as a rim of coins. Its slim and lacquered stem was mauve, embellished with rosepink flowers, and had an elegant curve of handle. The pointed tip carried the pale purple right through the blue cupola. But who had opened this beauty in blue?
The observer hadn’t been looking in that direction until the umbrella flared its roof. Now she could see a pair of legs below, supple legs in tight jeans, ending in soft blue shoes. When the feet under the blue umbrella began to lift and click together in the air, her jaw dropped and her eyes widened. She gazed in wonder at the dream of a dancing blue sunbrella, Lake Chapala shining in the sun behind it.
A faint song emerged from under the sunbrella’s dome. The melody had a canary trill that fairly flew, nimble music matching the apparition’s buoyancy. Time itself paused for the mystery. The spectator sat riveted to her bench, afraid if she took her eyes off the delight, it would disappear like a bubble blown over the lake. Without moving, she leaned her whole attention forward to grasp the phenomenon. But then, she sneezed!
The blue sunbrella, mid-dance, vanished down the Malecon in an instant. But the spectator heard a word wafting back to her ear, sung in so dulcet a tone that, as she sat bereft on the bench, a great healing settled deep in her bones. The word she heard drifting back like a dream? Salud.
(Salud: Spanish for health; used in Mexico as a declarative equivalent of God Bless You! when someone sneezes.)
*This piece of FUN was the result of the visual (and audio) prompt at our writing group this week. We closed our eyes and heard the sound of it opening, and then opened them to view the sunbrella before we wrote in silence together as we always do. (My beautiful sister Pattie in this photo was not part of the prompt.)
I watch, across the lake,
dark arms of falling water,
rainfall pouring on the mountains.
The sea of the lake pitches and rolls
from the south and east
with the Guaracheño wind,
night descending now,
congealing the greengray waves.
Lovers on the Malecon
only give attention to each other
though perhaps their ardency
feeds the growing storm.
At the edge of water
a musician lifts his saxophone
to send his trills into the mix.
Lightning flashes horizontal
kissing the hills like a hissing snake
in a singular blaze of passion.
And again, prone,
this time lightning
swaddles the long line of hills
in its white blanket of illumination.
Finally it stabs, vertical to earth.
Every strike, I gasp in gratitude.
The rain begins in gentle drops.
The saxman stays, and the lovers,
and so must I, revel in
this world, this weather, this being alive.
*Beltane is a Pagan high holy day held on May 1, midway between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice. Lake Chapala, shallow and fifty miles in length, 5000 feet above sea level, is located just south of Guadalajara in central Mexico.
I don’t write about politics, though I have made poems about the ramifications of policies and political actions. The last thing I expected was that a speech on U.S. soil by a French politician could possibly give me cause for a new optimism about the future of the planet. Yet it was so.
French President Emmanuel Macron’s speech to the United States Congress on April 25, 2018 appeals to the highest nature of all of us “building together, the 21st century world order.” He repeats the important concept of multilateralism several times, referring to an alliance of multiple countries pursuing a common goal, and he speaks of human rights, rights of minorities, and shared liberty as true answers to the disorders of the world! It was stunning to hear the usually divided US Congress responding to his speech so unanimously and uproariously. We are all so very hungry for this clear articulation of passionate ideals!
Macron goes so far beyond nationalism as to render it petty when he says, “What is the meaning of our life if our decisions reduce the opportunities for our children? We’re citizens of the same planet, and, we can make our planet great again.” He speaks to the abuses of capitalism and says he believes we can build the right answers by negotiating and cooperating. We wrote the World Trade organization rules, he reminds us, and we should follow them!
As for the Paris Climate Agreement, Macron diplomatically says, “One day the United States will come back and join, I’m sure!” Regarding fake news, he calls it “a virus, a corruption of information, an attempt to corrode the spirit of our Democracies.” When he goes on to speak of the danger of nuclear proliferation threats, he declares that France supports demilitarization of the Korean peninsula.
Macron becomes more and more pointed in his speech, but instead of arrows directed at Trump, he lifts us all above that base level and says, for example, about Iran: “We must respect sovereignty and let us not create new walls.” He reminds us that the US and France both signed the Iran Agreement and that “we cannot abandon it without something more substantial and comprehensive in its place, not without leaving the floor to terrorists.” He uses terms of respect when speaking of building peace in Syria as well, calling us all to honor diversity and to find humanitarian solutions.
Throughout the speech, Macron lays out rational positions that are a sweeping indictment of the US President’s worldview and he does it all without attacking Trump. “We can choose isolationism, withdrawal, and nationalism. This is an option. It can be tempting to us as a temporary remedy to our fears,” Macron said. “But closing the door to the world will not stop the evolution of the world.”
In his speech Emmanuel Macron addresses “women and men” (in that startling order) more than once, leaving behind the patriarchal mode of referring to human history as mankind’s. And at the end of this crucial call to higher ground, French President Macron rouses us out of our despondency into hope, with the words, “what we cherish is at stake, what we love is in danger— and together we shall prevail!”