Saturday, February 20, 2016

Down and Up on Lexington

Lexington Avenue in Asheville, NC  

You can begin at the perennial Penny Sale at Tops Shoes -
Begin at the top!
There's old Morrison's, enameled pots and pans,
barrels of candy, ancient drawers,
and we are descending!
I cross Walnut Street.
In the little windows, blue and cream bowls and urns,
hand-painted from Fez,  Morocco,
start that wonderful spin that says, “How did these get here?'
Bricks loose under the feet
clump along with the rhythm of Salsa.
A black girl and a white boy stroll by 
with guitars on their backs.
Dreadlocks under a gray wool cap call out,
“How ya doin'? Where ya headed?'
Sky People is empty now, altars of the world all gone.
Purple and yellow walls, and everywhere,
“March Against the West Asheville Walmart."
I see bins of cotton cloths, 
and a DJ stand called “Rooster Sauce,"
as incense pours into the air.
The river of Water Street rushes boldly under the manhole,
still relentless, still full of sheer will, the need to just be.
Look up! Listen! The water, the hills!
Downtown Books and News, 
old turquoise paint and comfy sofas,
every book you could ever want,
“I Am Spock," “Sex, Money, Kiss," and don't forget
“Christian Yoga and You."
Descend a little farther to Rosetta's Kitchen -
Get some tofu and mashed potatoes!
Remember LAFF, the jousting bikes, 
the belly dance for peace,
the warmth, the youth, the flirting.
Crinolines of all colors, and a young man with a palette.
As I write, a peeking passerby says “You write it, Sister!"
I do, and I agree- “Start a Revolution!"
Old chairs and old friends relaxing at Izzy's Coffee Den.
“I don't ever get in trouble as long as you're with me."
A tiny ghetto, this street, one of those freedom spots.
Who will show up next?
One of those little worlds that make us dream big,
where what you create today can feed your next ten years.
The gate to Vincent's Ear is quiet, quiet,
rhododendrons dormant for winter.
“Don't forget how we need this!," old Vincent seems to cry.
“There are wild beings inside of you no money can buy."
Past the Liquid Dragon and I begin to ascend again,
a bit cleaner and prices rising, Minx and Bouchon.
Paper stars at Chevron, indigo, stained glass and rose.
Red prairie skirts and gnomish shoes.
Shiva and Parvati dance in copper. Palettes again,
palettes of bead, of paint and cloth,
palettes of poetry and bread and babies.
God wants choices, yes She does,
carved onyx and luscious nudes,
mud brown figures in window seats.
"God Bless the People of Every Nation"
I see before I go.

Annelinde Metzner
November 2008
Asheville, North Carolina

       Lexington Avenue is Asheville's East Village, Asheville's Haight Ashbury.   My son loved to hang out at Vincent's Ear, a great place for the young and aware to spend time.  As is often the case, these places come and go so quickly.  This poem will serve as a snapshot for how it was just that one day in 2008. I wrote it by jotting down impressions as I strolled the length of the street from top to bottom and back up the other side.  The last three lines are taken from bumper stickers on cars, including "Imagine."


Friday, February 5, 2016

This Most Huge Yes

Elsie at 101 years.

I must have been four years old, 

out for an armload of wildflowers
-daisies, mallow flowers, phlox.
Elsie and I sat on a rock  

to rest in the shade of the gnarled apple tree.
“Oh World, I cannot hold thee close enough!” 

cried Elsie, my Tante,
and on and on, poems by memory,
astounding my young ears with the bigness, 

the width of life beyond my ken.
Dickenson, Heine, Goethe, Millay,
-all fair game to Elsie’s keen mind and deep delight.
What is the world? She answered for me,
just a hint of what was to come, 

what could be, beyond the now.
I gazed at her above me,
and walked home with her, my arms full of flowers,
my little hand in hers.
And now, many years have passed.
My Tante is ninety-seven, 

but still, poems sprout from her lips,
and she, with her searching mind, 

evokes them from me as well.
“Prithee, let no bird call!”
We happen into a field, wild with flowers,
daisies, phlox, a wild quilt of color.
Thrice we return, picking armloads of wildflowers,
holding, holding, ever loving this life, 

unwilling to let go.
This divine charge we accepted so long ago
just to love this, just to live this,
eyes wide as daisy petals, enveloped in earthly scents,
knee-deep in colors,
just this most huge Yes.

Annelinde Metzner
Wildacres, North Carolina 

May 2011

This week, on January 29th at 3 AM, my dear Aunt Elsie passed from this life.  She was 102 years old.  She influenced me to pursue the creative, engaged and inquisitive life since I was a tiny child, taking me for long walks in the woods and fields, and quoting wonderful poems, such as the one quoted above, "God's World" by Edna St. Vincent Millay.

God's World

By Edna St. Vincent Millay
O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!
   Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
   Thy mists, that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour!   That gaunt crag
To crush!   To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!

Long have I known a glory in it all,
         But never knew I this;   
         Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart,—Lord, I do fear
Thou’st made the world too beautiful this year;
My soul is all but out of me,—let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call. 
Elsie learned many poems by memory in middle and high school, which she could quote verbatim all her life.  She studied at the local college, Furman University, until she was 94, often astounding her professors with her memory of world events.  
    My girlfriend Susa Silvermarie gave her a written copy of the Millay poem this past Christmas, and we all recited the lines.  Elsie liked to stretch her arms 'way out on either side whenever she quoted "Here such a passion is as stretcheth me apart."  
Oh, precious one, a thousand thanks for your deep example and unforgettable teachings of how to live! 
Elsie at her hundredth birthday.
Remembering her in the wildflowers

Oh world, I cannot hold thee close enough!