Saturday, October 2, 2010

limelight













for Sarah Dunnam Lewis, 1855-1924



This lamp is a woman.
The chimney's seductive curve,
the floral lip, its symmetry is yours.
You sponged black soot,
replaced the wick, like walking
tightrope in your sleep.

Brood brought down the house,
but never you, never the lamp.
She faired a sideshow century
without a chip, crated-up
in steam engines and horse carts,
Burnt Corn to New Mexico,

till a deep-snow Hoosier night,
the undertaker raised her
over your face,
for one last applause.
He did not grope
the hand-painted porcelain,
but balanced her in his palm,
like a juggler.



Tess Kincaid
October 2, 2010



To join Magpie Tales creative writing group, click HERE.
This is also a Sepia Saturday post.

72 comments:

  1. Amazing metaphors bolster the first line of this poem. A story of a woman's strength, courage, and resilience; In all our lives we should be blessed to have such a light.

    Wonderful poem, Willow.

    Rick

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  2. Dear Willow, I am always fascinated to see the many and varied stimuli which you use for your poetry. So often, thanks to what you write,one is able to look at an ordinary,everyday object in a completely new and different light. No pun intended.

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  3. Lovely! That last line is especially wonderful.

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  4. A wonderful symbol of comfort and service, steadfast over all those years and providing comfort still. A lovely tribute to Sarah, Willow.

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  5. The rhythm of this poem flows beautifully just like the "seductive curve" of the lamp. It all fits just as it should.

    PG

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  6. I've read this through three times now, just to keep savouring it. My favourite of yours, to date.

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  7. Thanks, all. Martin, I especially love this one, as well. My grandfather told me he remembered as a little boy seeing the undertaker, who came to the farm that winter night, balance the lamp in the palm of his hand, as he lighted her face, for the approval of the family.

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  8. Willow, beatifully written. What a nice homage to this woman.

    Your writing is so crisp, the images strong. I enjoy it thoroughly.

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  9. nice...i tip my hat in the light of your lamp.
    but check your link to 'here'...is it just me, or wonky from your side, too?

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  10. The little family story of the undertaker created a most beautiful tribute to a woman long lived and gone...lovely.

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  11. re: Netflix. J Christie was always a ham actor. She just suited the age, and people somehow forgave her.

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  12. As always, you put your creative powers to work .. and we all benefit.

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  13. Cro, you're so right. She was the "flavor of the day" and everyone loved her.

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  14. The beauty of your poem made me cry. It is so poignant from first light to last flicker. Lamplight, limelight ... lovelight,

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  15. amazing piece... true limelight...

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  16. The imagery is so lyrical, so evocative that it moves one somewhere deep in the soul. You never cease to astonish and delight, Willow.

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  17. excellent...love how you bring it home...one last applause...nice line...great magpie willow!

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  18. Wondeful write, the world of our ancestors must have been view so differently by candle and lantern light....no music or sound --just the presense of the now and its emotions....nice..bkm

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  19. Willow, how do I so enjoy the way you write. You pierce my soul without fail. I am always in awe reading you. You humble me.

    Absolutely stunning mag Willow. Thank you. Love and Light, Sender

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  20. This is a beautiful image in words. The photo was just icing on the cake.

    Thank you for the prompt. I will be coming back often.

    b

    http://www.retireinstyleblog.com
    http://www.itcrossedmymindblog.com

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  21. What vivid and memorable images you paint, Willow, with such a sparing use of words. An amazing poem.

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  22. Living creatures those lamps, silently focusing our attention on the here and now, forbidding labour.

    Beautiful lines from the living poet - how can we thank you dear Willow.

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  23. She was so young, only 64, and
    must have been matriarchal
    --the living flame and light
    for the family. Would she have
    been your great grandmother?

    This poem is so melancholy,
    gentle, and lyrical it transports
    us backward in an instant,
    tugging our shadows and our
    spirits back to that Hoosier
    moment, to that beautiful
    adieu near the instant of
    transition; written with love
    and absent of fear.

    I come to this Magpie late
    it seems. I wondered if
    the week of the Ball we would
    still be in affectionate servitude,
    and it appears that not only are
    we tasked with it, but dozens
    of magpies have flocked to
    your willow tree already.
    Save a branch for me, dear.

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  24. Holy smokes, "but balanced her in his palm" - so lovely.

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  25. Glenn, Sarah Lewis was my great-great grandmother. I'm afraid I haven't visited the magpie branches yet, myself!

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  26. superb writing willow - it's something i've wondered about when i've visited very old homes . . . the presence of objects of such fragility. how did they afford them? how did they survive? steven

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  27. this was so beautiful, balanced..and that it was born out of a long ago memory...amazing.

    how rich your life has become because those before you shared their stories.

    Rene

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  28. Willow,

    I like the ambiguity between sexuality of woman and the stolidness. She's durable, yet feminine.

    The lamp, a symbol of her, out-endured her! It fared better than she did, though both retained full dignity.

    Undertaker, always a figure sinister, in an implicitly dark room raises the lamp (and moves shadows?!) with an acrobat's or magician's respect for his 'assistant' to a hushed audience.

    Performance complete. Great 'Americana'.

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  29. Beautifully imagined, beautifully realised. Good writing.

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  30. How do you find the time to do all that you do and write so beautifully? I have read this four times and the story it tells in such few words is just amazing.

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  31. Love the cadence and the story - devine!

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  32. THAT was a good one Willow! I could visualize all the things the lamp has seen. Loved it.

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  33. that's a romantic take.
    beautiful job!

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  34. To Sarah and all the women in our family histories; Sarah looks to have been a determined lady. Loved you poem.

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  35. "This lamp is a woman"
    I love that Willow.
    "but balanced her in his palm,
    like a juggler."
    Wow.
    Cue the applause.
    This piece needs to be spoken,
    most definitely.

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  36. Willow, I also amcoming in late, REAL LATE--hope I'm allowed in the door. I was outside the Manor, looking in at the Royal festivities, feeling sorry for myself, and am only now recovering from my depression.

    NEXT year, I intend to BE there in FULL DRESS and tails, and might even play a tune with the orchestra if that will be allowed.

    NOW--YOUR POST: You have outdone yourself this week, Lady Willow, and your departed and close relative, so determined and WYSIWYG-type Peep--well, that is being carried forward with YOU.
    Thanks for everything!

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  37. A poignant memory for your grandfather .. I can almost see the undertaker holding the lamp in his palm.

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  38. it is a lovely tribute to the light of some people long after they've left their earthly bodies... the light is a perfect reflection of those times when rooms were meant only for death or company...

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  39. I have an antique lamp similar to this and I will never look at it the same again. And I must tell you, I went out and bought a couple of poetry books - I'll give it a try. My son writes quite a bit of poetry = he is 17. I might have to post some of it on my blog.

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  40. Wonderful imagery, such beauty and contrast, amazing.

    Thank you.

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  41. Ah Willow (or should I say Dotty) - nobody does this kind of thing better than you. Delighted to have you - and your memories - back on Sepia Saturday.

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  42. Ah word magician..i read these words over and over aloud..sometimes poetry is like that..I just want to read the words like music and they slip around my mind..a thing of beauty..

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  43. Dear Willow,

    You make my day.... & just love your metaphors, thank you for your lovely poetry!

    Your header = I want I want I want it!

    Love

    Agneta

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  44. Willow,
    To everything there is a season.She lived by lamp light until the flame went out. Beautiful memory
    rel

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  45. The Moon
    shines
    on a cat

    Meow

    As a native Swede, I am particularly proud of my love poetry suite Sonnets for Katie.

    My Poems

    My wallpaper art Babes!)

    Yours,

    - Peter Ingestad, Sweden

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  46. Love it, especially the last killer line.

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  47. I have an oil lamp and will now look at it so differently. You write about things that open my mind. We have been so busy lately and are going to move at the end of this month.

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  48. Dear Willow: A most excellent poem. The subject of the poem a metaphor; a woman. The visual imagery of the Ms Lewis in the photographic portrait (Sepia Saturday) and the image of the hurricane lamp being so wordsmith-rich in both imagery and visual experience. My favourite line;
    "till a deep-snow Hoosier night, the undertaker raised her
    over your face,
    for one last applause". Most bravo and bravura the poem and a very brave pioneer woman with tons of chutpah! Also loved the part where the delineation between the woman being a lamp and an actual person are somewhat deliberately blurred. Ingenious!

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  49. Get OUT. I was enjoying this poem all the way through, both for what you were saying and how you were saying it, but when I got to that last bit about holding it in his hand "like a juggler", that knocked me right out of my chair. That's goooooooooood!

    Give me back my mojo, thief! LOL.

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  50. Stunningly beautiful, magnificently rendered, Willow! Thanks for such a lovely jewel.

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  51. Beautiful poem, Willow. A tribute to a strong, courageous woman.

    By the way, LOVE your profile photo! You are one gorgeous woman.

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  52. Another beautiful magpie.... Loved the last line "Did not grope the porcelain but balanced it on palm"... Romantic and seductive at the same time..Brilliant work willow

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  53. This is truly wonderful. Everyone has said it all.

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  54. quite a unique take on the lamp

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  55. What a touching tribute to your great-grandmother. Wonderful!

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  56. Willow, thanx for dropping by and commenting.

    Your 'manor' is incredibly enchanting.. plan to be resident a ghost!

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  57. This made me sigh - very nice!

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  58. A beautiful tribute Willow...your imagery is always so wonderful. What is there that you are not good at? A curious mind wants to know...you are awesome! :-)

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  59. faired a sideshow century - what a brilliant way to state the object's long existence. This whole poem flowed from start to finish with a gentle revealing of two souls - one human and the other made of glass and clay. The undertaker at the end, doing the final job for the old woman, and holding the lamp so delicately in his hand... marvelous writing! Superior craftmanship - I love it.

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  60. Superb tribute to a woman's courage and the shape of her life.

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  61. Excellent Willow,,very well done! :-)

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  62. you never fail to amaze me :) another great one!

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  63. Brilliant. Just brilliant.
    Thank you.

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  64. Beautiful tribute.
    Have read it several times already; will come back for more.

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  65. I would like to exchange links with your site willowmanor.blogspot.com
    Is this possible?

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  66. Thanks, dear ones, for your generous comments. I'm not sure I could continue to write without your kind support. You're the best. x

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  67. A lamp come to life. Loved every word!

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  68. "but balanced her in his palm,
    like a juggler."

    Fabulous! Sorry to be so dang late commenting- cleaning out closets like a mad woman so as to have a big garage sale ...my house already breathes easier!
    Cheers and thanks for Magpie Tales!

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Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)