Recently, I went to the Richard Stockton College near Atlantic City to be part of the Women’s History Month reading series. South Jersey is a favorite place of mine — in particular Brigantine Beach. My late aunt (my mother’s sister) lived nearby in Absecon. I went down early to take a long walk on the beach. One of my last memories of being with Aunt Ethelind before she became terminally ill was driving her and my elderly father down to this beach at night when there was a full moon. It was very cold that night so my aunt ran up the ramp, looked at the full moon, ran back to my car and said, “It was beautiful. Thank you.”
The day of the reading was the day of the March snowstorm. It was windy and cold and when it started to snow, the air smelled like rain. The ocean was beautiful.
The Seventh Annual Women’s History Month Prose & Poetry Reading was hosted by poet Emari Digiorgio who brought together a chorus of
In particular, I was happy to see my long-time literary colleagues Anndee Hochman (who opened with a poem by Lucille Clifton) and Crystal Bacon. Crystal was nice enough to send me some of the poems that she read. One of those poems (Anniversary) is below and more will be featured next month on my webzine amusejanetmason.com.
At the reading, I read from Tea Leaves, a memoir of mothers and daughters (Bella Books, 2012). A short excerpt is below:
Sitting in the living room with my mother, I stared into her face and saw my grandmother, not as I knew her, but as a girl whose life lay before her. My grandmother, Ethel, a girl who dreamed.
by Crystal Bacon
The Schuylkill purls and glitters
its way East between thawing banks
of snow crawling back from gold
grass, white as the scumbled fur
its few days journey from form
to shape. Still, it carries a memory
of repose that somehow brings you
to mind. Image, imagined,
your nameless body found,
in the seaside town where you left,
last year, your lived life.
Trees reach bare knuckled toward heaven
holding emptiness, that luminous blue
defined by black lines, branches,
both letter and speech, like prayer. A train
clatters across the river, I mean above
it inexplicably. Tons of metal: cars,
cargo, rails resting on those piled rocks
that span what flows, one heavy leg
planted on either side, bridge of agency.
Last March, I scattered a small bag of ash
into the cold and flowing Arno, like all
its kind relentless toward the sea. It took
you South beneath the seven bridges
past old men fishing at dusk.
the steel and glass, reflection glides
on its lighted surface, sunset glowing
and generic against the smudged
domestic trees. I think of you,
gone now, like February’s late,