Prelude

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I have long suspected that the ancient deities – some more powerful than others, but who is it to judge? – take more than a passing interest in the life of this city, when they awake from their deep slumber, in the depth of the marvellously resurrected temples that the reconstructed museums of the island are. I cannot help imagining the ghosts of the ancient pharos and queens, so beautiful still in their golden garbs, surveying the new Rome, listening, with a knowing smile on their lips, to the ever repeated founding myths of the new Republic: the birth, the fall from grace, the “darkest page” in the history of Germany, the destruction, the starvation, the air lift, the new dictatorship, and then, the new dawn.

Freiheit, wir sind das Volk, the fall of the wall, unification. Indeed the achievements are amazing. The city that faced annihilation, misery, death by strangulation, is alive again, and strives. The reconstruction, the revival of the historical monuments, the trees: do the gods look on with appreciation, perhaps with some envy, even, that they are no longer those that the people worship?

The rain interrupted, briefly, the eternal summer. For a while the asparagus disappeared behind a thin veil of clouds and water drops. Subdued and slower, the traffic, the cyclists in waterproof gear… Nefertiti looked on.

How not to be in love with such patronage?

The City knows #WritersWednesday

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She never forgets: the humble swamps of the beginnings, the far away sounds of war, the medieval cruelties, the triumphs, the parades, the Enemy at the gates…

Then there was the long war – thirty years of destruction, rape, pestilence and ruins. Out of this came a stronger state, and she was the capital. The Soldiers” King – Soldaten König – made her powerful, perhaps a little agressive too. She knows what the fate of his son was, the sweet Friedrich, and Russia: a predicament for the next two centuries.

She remembers the Corsican invader, who would have feared Friedrich, and would lose his pride, and an empire, in the snows and fires of Moscow. And she loved Schinkel, the master architect, he who gave her the cross – on the hill: Kreuzberg, and what followed, the victories, the invincible army, the birth of the Reich, the Iron Cross.

Of the First World War she only remembers the trains full of enthusiastic soldiers, and then the revolution, machine guns in the street, Spartakus, the bloodbath, the corpses thrown into the canal.

Of the long night that started not so much later, she speaks often, soberly. So many sad memories, all those little brass stones on her pavements – so many human beings taken away, old and young, and burnt. The memorials, the thousands buried in her parks. Yes, the trees, fallen soldiers, reborn to adorn her streets.

Of the wall of division, yesterday really, a few seconds ago in her life, she knows all, and now she sees the builders, the speculators, the newcomers.

She sees us, my love, and is willing to tell us her stories. We will listen to her, in awe.

 

Playful #TheDailyPost

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.

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We have waited so long, and now, we are here: this is our playground, the tree-lined streets, the old canal, the lovers on the crumbling benches… Silent, beautiful walls smile at us, radiating a warmth perceptible only to those who have penetrated the city’s secret…

We shall dance in the street, naked, your hair flying in the sunshine, your feet only licking the ground, light as a cloud. We shall drink, and dance, and drink more, and sleep.

The light will flood our room, we will hear the far away tumult of other beings, the faded sounds of machines. Step by step we will walk back in time, everything more luminous, old songs resonating around us.

This is our playground, a place to live, to love, and die.

Photography: Roses bordering the Luisenstadt Canal, Berlin Kreuzberg, © 2016 Honoré Dupuis

Yawpa #AtoZAprilChallenge

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Yawpa is the Hopi name for the Mockingbird. “The mockingbird fluttered around the bamboo, calling out, ‘Pashumayani! Pashumayani! Be careful! Be careful!’ This is the way the people departed from the Lower World” (from The Four Worlds: the doorway to the Fourth World, in ‘The Fourth World of the Hopis’, by Harold Courlander.)

From Wikipedia, the Northern Mockingbird:

It also features in the title and central metaphor of the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. In that novel, mockingbirds are portrayed as innocent and generous, and two of the major characters, Atticus Finch and Miss Maudie, say it is a sin to kill a mockingbird because “they don’t do one thing for us but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us”.[47]

Hush, Little Baby” is a traditional lullaby, thought to have been written in the Southern United States, its key first lines, “Hush, little baby, don’t say a word, Mama’s gonna buy you a mockingbird. And if that mockingbird don’t sing, Mama’s gonna buy you a diamond ring.”

The song of the northern mockingbird inspires much of classic American folk song of the mid-19th century, “Listen to the Mocking Bird“.[48]

Mockin’ Bird Hill is a popular song best known through recordings by Patti PageDonna Fargo, and by Les Paul and Mary Ford in 1951.

Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States, had a pet mockingbird named “Dick.”

The sound of the Mockingbird

Image: By 21_Mocking_Bird.jpg:
John James Audubon (1785–1851)

Alternative names
Birth name: Jean-Jacques-Fougère Audubon
Description
American ornithologist, naturalist, hunter and painter
Date of birth/death
26 April 1785
27 January 1851
Location of birth/death
Les Cayes (Haiti)
New York City
Work location
Louisville, Kentucky, New Orleans, New York City, Florida
Authority control
VIAF: 14765625
LCCN: n79018677
GND: 11865098X
BnF: cb118895048
ULAN: 500016578
ISNI: 0000 0001 1040 5229
WorldCat
WP-Person21_Mocking_Bird.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13259783

#VisDare 135: Negotiating

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At long last I found you again my darling, after all those months of anxiety! Where could you be? And you are there, just in front of me, in the middle of those inert little dolls… When your turn comes be sure that fellow will notice your guy, I’m a good head above the others.

Yes, those idle folks will be surprised, such a small woman, with that huge fellow! We will laugh too, and cry a little. You will hug me, me holding you in those strong arms, my little beauty.

Then we will take the long road home, away from this city, no more auctions for you. You won’t leave my sight, on the way you’ll tell me your story. And I will tell you how much I love you, cherish you, how I feared to have lost you, and won’t let you go away again, without me…

Image source: Doll Auction at Caledonian market, 1920s.

 

The Guardian Angel

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The old man looked out of the window into the familiar expense of the suburban garden, taking in the brightness of the tulips, the now fading bluebells and the impertinent grass, absurdly green. What a contrast with the arid plateau at the foot of the mesa!

There, on his desk, near the photograph of the assembled family – the one he’d taken on his terrace the summer before – she stood, her delicate silhouette arrested in the position of the butterfly dance, the colours of her wings shimmering in the morning light. “You are a beauty,” he thought, “And I am lucky to have you: my inspiration, my living companion…”

Soon, a cup of steaming coffee to his side, he went back to work. “This novel will never be finished,” he said to himself; “Not that I don’t want to, but now I am so slow, and I know… I will run out of time!” It was true that since his wife’s departure (he never thought of her death, merely of a delay in them being reunited) he had become very slow, as if he’d adopted a different rhythm of life. Yet he was waking up at the same time, as if she was still there, and carefully brewed coffee, as if she was waiting for her first cup, upstairs, in their room. But, now, he had gone back to long hand writing, and he was lucky to get a few hundred words into shape during his morning work.

Behind her mask, the kachina was observing him. “You are a good man,” she was saying to herself, “and, you are right, your end is near. But since you have led a good life, and understand the meaning of your life, I will do something for you…”

The old man put his pen down, and looked at her: he knew she was talking to herself, but could hear the soft voice, and he could sense the imperceptible motion of her fingers, holding the pahos, the ceremonial prayer sticks.

“Maiden, do you miss the mountains?” He asked, smiling at her, perhaps not expecting an answer. He resumed his work, the pen scratching the paper, honing words.

Later, as he was feeling more light-headed than usual, he heard her voice again.

“When the time comes, you will know what has to be done,” she said slowly, “and your people will bury you according to your rites,” she continued, “but later, you will take the trail to Maski, the Land of the Dead, and on your way there you will find me: I will wait for you, and guide you, have no fear.”

Image: A mural depicting Tawa, the sun spirit and creator in Hopi mythology. Painted Desert Inn, Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona. By Fred Kabotie, National Park Service – http://www.nps.gov/common/uploads/photogallery/20140223/park/pefo/BBBAA541-155D-451F-6780A798473458A3/BBBAA541-155D-451F-6780A798473458A3.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23228610

Hopi mythology at Wikipedia

Niman #AtoZAprilChallenge

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[In the Hopi culture] Niman (NEE-mahn) is the annual festival celebrating the departure of the kachinas [spirits]. During the dance, which is an aspect of the festival, the kachinas give out bread, pike, fruit and other gifts to the spectators. Small boys receive bows and arrows; and small girls receive kachina dolls.

from: The Fourth World of the Hopis, Glossary and Pronunciation Guide, by Harold Courlander, University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque ©1971

Image: Kachina (tihu) depicting Palhik’ Mana (Water Drinking Girl); Hopi people, probably 1920s; 50.8 x 35.9 x 10.2 cm; Wood, paint, and wool yarn; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas; given in memory of Congressman James M. Collins by his family; object number 1993.71

Snap #TheDailyPost

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.

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On the long flight back home we took great care of you: you, so fragile, so graceful…

Now you dance proudly on the special shelf, reserved for the most honorable guests.

Behind your mask, the mask of the Butterfly Maiden, under the beautiful wings, I see your smile. How could I forget? The Black Mesa, the immaculate sky, the vast horizon of your people’s land, a four hundred year old village, the calm words of our guide, the craftsman who made you…

You, in your splendour, a small doll for a child, a powerful Spirit… A haunting kachina girl… And, I, I look on, mesmerised.

A Story From Long Ago….

Beautiful memories…

From The Earth Studio

There was a time when I found out I was going to be a father for the first time. It set me off on a journey to figure out how I was going to teach my daughter about who we were as Hopi People. I thought back to my own childhood and recalled stories I had heard from my relatives. These stories help me connect to the land and I remembered in my youth how I used my imagination to come up with other stories. So I decided to put some of these down in a book that I could give to my daughter in the hopes that she would be able to relate to the landscape and our culture as I had done.

I spent quite a bit of time putting together the stories and then laying out and drawing the accompanying pictures you see below. Ultimately, I never…

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#VisDare130 Possibility

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You came, in this infinite solitude, on the edge of the lake. Last night I fetched you from the small town: you were dead tired, I had to carry you to your room.

And this morning, early, I saw you, standing in the silence, the calm, icy water half way to  your knees, the black shawl over your shoulder. For long minutes we were immobile, taking in the immaculate beauty of these shores.

No words are needed. It has been so long: I know now that you will stay. All these years I hoped, alone. Perhaps you did, too.

You are here. The world is reborn, the trees are alive, and black is the water at your feet.

Soon, Spring will come, and we’ll walk through forests so old we will have to relearn their tongue – but maybe, you, will remember.

I look into your eyes, deeper than the lake.