Monday, August 29, 2011

Living in the Moment

Thanks to the lovely hostess, Elena Secota, and friendly poets and musicians the featured reading at the Rapp Saloon was very enjoyable. I even had a bass-guitar accompaniment to some of my poems, including "Look at me..." inspired by Ella Fitzgerald's version of Misty. Rocky played the melody during the poem's refrains and was silent during the narrative stanzas. It worked very well! The poem itself is published on this blog, as well as in the Loch Raven Review.

My listeners liked it a lot, but the greatest impact on the audience was made by another, older poem of a more philosophical nature. I wrote "Memento Vitae" after the death of a good friend. The title, modelled on a medieval monks' maxim, Memento Mori (Remember Death), means "Remember Life."

Memento Vitae

Let's talk about dying.
The gasp of last breath.
The end. Or maybe not,
We don't know.

Let's talk about the last day.
What would you do
if you knew?
Whom would you love?
Would you find your dearest,
most mysterious love?
Or would you just stay
in the circle of your own?
Would you rob, steal
or insult anyone?
Would you cry?
Burn your papers?
If the fabric of your future
shrank to one day,
or maybe just an hour?

Let's talk about living, then.
The next breath,
that will take you
to the next minute,
the next heartbeat.

Just about – now.

Soon after presenting my work to a very gracious audience at what should be called "Poetry Salon at the Saloon," I was on the way to the High Sierras for my first real vacation in years - without the internet, TV, or Blackberry. I was off the grid, wandering around lush mountain meadows and forests, while the Kadafi regime fell and Hurricane Irene was approaching New York.

A week in the wilderness was a time of tranquility, rest, and spiritual revival. I listened to the breeze singing in the tops of the trees, as they whispered and sighed. I swam in the cold mountain lake every morning, leaving my worries "in my wake" - and I wrote a poem about it. Since it is still unfinished, here is a humorous testimonial to picking wild mushrooms among tall pine trees and delicate aspen.

On Mushrooms

In the forest of Christmas trees for giants
I look for the shapes of mushrooms
I used to know well – hiding
In tall grass under the aspen,
Beneath piles of pine needles and bark

– the true one,
The king of the forest, Boletus
Rules in unexpected places
Among birch twigs and Douglas fir
Osaki, Kozaki – his second-rate,
Still lovely cousins wait in the shade
Among manzanita, wild currants and fern.

I find bitter, colorful szatans,
Pretending to be true
Pale muchomory my grandma used
To kill flies in a glass filled with sugar water
Psie grzybki fit for a dog
That would not eat them
And twisted, tree-growing huba
I do not know how to cook.

My share of mushrooms?
The toxic lookalikes of true ones!
That’s all there is in this
Enchanted forest for me.

And this is why, my dears, I wrote
And you read Confessions
Of a Failed Mushroom-picker

Picking mushrooms is a great activity, as it takes your mind off everything, since it requires all the attention you have to spot and claim the mushrooms hidden under pine needles or in the grass. Next year I might be more lucky and actually find some... Besides, I do have to swim around that rocky island in the middle of the lake, with just one pine tree on it!


All poems and nature photographs (c) 2008-2011 by Maja Trochimczyk. Portrait of Maja and Rocky by Elena Secota.

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