Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Poetry of Kay Loftus

The other day I came across a bundle of poems written by a woman that I knew only for a brief time, her name was Kathlyn W. Loftus, or just Kay. I was living in Southern California at the time and we met through the Palomar Unitarian Universalist church in Vista, CA. It was a wonderful, compassionate fellowship and I belonged there for a couple of years before leaving the area. Kay was near 90 when I knew her and she was very encouraging of my writing. We had a chap book of poetry by our members and it was the first time that I had ever shared my poetry let alone read it aloud in front of the entire congregation! She was so supportive and kind, had a gleam in her eye.
I am sorry to say that I know little if anything of Kay's life save for the little information I could glean from the internet, she was born in 1909 and passed in October of 2003 at the age of 94. She lived in Escondido, CA. So I would like to share her poetry because they should be read and enjoyed and not just saved in a file. This is for you Kay.
I will be still as stone upon the hillside,
accepting each season's natural offerings
of sun, of rain, of wearing away, as growth.
For I no longer move o seek firm answers
to the great questions. Rather,
I stay to ask the simple ones
that come from being:
"Am I in my place?"
"Do I feel sun, know warmth, and savor, too,
the cold which is its rigorous opposite?"
Being, then, is the rock that clings,
knows nothing as complete surprise,
accepts erosion as normality.
There will be those
who value stoniness;
who see the lessening of stony mass
merely as shaping of a finer form;
who will know grains that separate as sand
have value,
for they later slip away to play a part
in shaping other stones.
The process flows,
and stones, though still,
possess their potency.
May 1990 Kay Loftus
Spring Blossoming
I must have seen a hundred thousand trees
Bursting with blossoms...thrown into the air
Like kisses blown by children. Yet the sight
Of this first blooming tree on this Spring day
Has set some inner string in me alive
With trembling: such vibrations that I scarce
Tread ground, but float, and blossom-like, unfold,
Expand, until I am at one with that liqueur
Which floods each bud and forces it to bloom,
And which now flows through me and blooms me, too.
March 6, 1987 Kay Loftus
Night Thoughts III
Sometimes the night is meant for thought:
sleep flows away and I am caught
by waves from some deep inner sea
that break on shores unknown to me,
then ebb and leave their trace of foam;
and I have traveled far from home.
The poem I sought, like foam, may fail
and vanish, for a thought is frail
and fugitive in dark of night,
and hard to hold, until day's light
reveals the gift... or empty hand..
mere shreds of foam on shifting sand.
March 1986 Kay Loftus

Only on Thursday, Only on Thursday
This is the day I call my own:
Of course, I disconnect the phone.
The doorbell rings, and sure, I hear it,
but just as surely don't go near it.
My family knows I'm "in absentia",
they call it "dear old Mom's dementia".
Friends have learned to call on Tuesday,
knowing Thursday is my choose day.
God chose Sunday, deemed it holy:
I'll take Thursday, it's mine solely.
1987 Kay Loftus
Sweet Violets
The Gardner's Dilemma
Well...the violets grown in the lawn, now.
They crept there from under the tree,
Where they made such a splash in the Springtime;
They were blue as the blue of the sea.
And the fragrance! A perfume so heady
I nearly got drunk from the smell.
Now, I'll have to sit down there and pull them,
And I know that will take quite a spell.
It is possible that, while I'm working,
The violet plants will work too,
Spreading out in some other direction:
Then the pulling commences anew.
There must be some morals: it's likely
To be, "Just don't pull violets."
But my choice has been made; I'll stand by it,
Come the Springtime, I'll have no regrets.
March 1986 Kay Loftus
My Friend
She keeps a house that's super clean,
I'm satisfied with neat;
Her job is tension-filled,
while mine, I end to find a treat.
Her drawers, in strictest order,
make mine appear a mess;
Her frequent, "No!" includes a frown,
while I'm inclined toward, "Yes".
And yet, from these antipodes
we've reached across, and thrown
a bridge of love; on it we meet
in friendship both can own.
May 1986 Kay Loftus
I feel I know you through your words Kay and I wish we had had more time but I perhaps that is all that we needed. I am glad I knew you for even a little while and thank you for touching my life. We were kindred spirits and I'll think of you every time I see a violet push through the earth in the Spring.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

It Takes a Village

Sculpture in Children's Garden, Wegerzyn.

Recently I was walking through the children's garden at Wegerzyn Gardens and Park in Dayton. The gardens are whimsical, fun, full of smells and sounds and not just for kids. I came across this sculpture in a far corner and it reminded me of my childhood and myself. Me running barefoot through fields, climbing trees, exploring gardens and communing with nature. I was always outside no matter the weather, a rainstorm was an opportunity to stomp in rain puddles and dance with an umbrella like Gene Kelly in Singing in the Rain.

It also reminded me of the many women who surrounded me in my life and especially my earlier years. Women who inspired me, taught me, introduced me to art and beauty and nature, gardening, and learning. Women who taught me how to cook, sew, research, look for a bargain, re-purpose and
enjoy and appreciate the simple things in life.

When I was around 5 years old we were transferred to Springfield, Mass. with my fathers job. We moved into a large apartment complex and we lived in a court. A great many of our neighbors were widowed,  elderly women who fortunately loved the neighborhood children and embraced us. They were from all different cultures and backgrounds. There was a little lady, Helen Hoit, who would have a group of us in after school for cookies and taught us all how to play cards, Kings in the corner and rummy. Another very tall lady Mrs. Ahern who lived next door who also loved to have us in and read to us. Mrs. Cohen on the other side would come home from synagogue on Saturday's and call everyone in to eat from vast platters of food she had prepared. I still have not been able to create or find tuna salad like she used to make, it was out of this world. She would bake us huge cookies full of M & M's. A few doors down were two ladies, Ruth and Jean, they had a lovely apartment with antiques and lovely tapestries and embroideries. They had been friends for many years and both had been educators, Dr. Evans had been the dean of Springfield College. I'll never forget one Christmas she gifted us with a set of records that inspired children through sounds and imagination. They were great fun. For the next few years all of these women were part of my daily life. I see now that it was a two way street. We kept them young and involved and they taught and shared with us. I considered them all to be my Grandmothers and I loved them dearly.    

Dogwood Tree.
My Mother's best friend was Carolyn Aldrich. They had known each other since they were
ten years old and in school. Carolyn was deaf and had a tough time in school. Mom was her helper and confidant all their lives. She was every bit a New Englander, frugal, loved tradition and family.
She was an amazing gardener and cars would stop to walk her gardens and ask questions. Birds were another passion and she always cared for them. Sometimes we would drive an hour north to where she lived in Hatfield, Mass. and she would have fried corn meal mush with real maple syrup and lots of crispy bacon ready for breakfast. Then we would all set out and spend the day going to tag sales. I still have the sewing box I found on one such excursion all those years ago. She shared with me her nose for a bargain, re-purposing, antiquing, and gardening. She also introduced me to
genealogy. Carolyn had been researching her family for many years. For Christmas one year she gave me all the sheets and information I would need to start my own, which I have done now for over 25 years and I have loved every minute. We had a lot of adventures over the years. She never had children of her own but she was always there for me and my brothers. 

Another woman who left a lasting impression upon me was named Peggy Lipsio. She lived in a small farmhouse across the road from my Grandparents in Northfield Farms, Mass. I'll never forget the first time I walked into her glassed in porch. I was mesmerized by the colors and shapes of glass bottles that lined every windowsill. If they were clear she would fill them with colored water. It was a rainbow room and I fell in love. Of course soon after I started collecting little colored bottles wherever we went. So today I have my own window shelves full of colored light and rainbows. She too was a gardener and her husband Joe made whirligigs, fanciful creations that spun and twirled in the wind on the white picket fences that surrounded her gardens. Peggy and I had an adventure together that left me with a lot of pain and her with a lot of guilt but it wasn't her fault. She had put me on the back of her bike and we went for a ride along the country roads, I was just around 5 years old. She told me to put my foot back and I did...right into the spokes of the bike. Broke my leg in 3 places! We have a number of pictures from that time of me in my walking cast and blue gingham bathing suit. It was a long summer. But, I only have good memories of her and our times together and the beauty that she introduced me to.

 Each of these women added to my childhood, along with my Mom and my Grandmother, my Godmother Masha who I wrote about on an earlier post. And so many more at different stages of my life. I think of all of them as a blossom upon the tree of my life. Like the picture of the dogwood tree above each blossom is unique and beautiful. All bloomed and blossomed in the Springtime of my life. All are gone now but their beauty and legacy lives on within me. I am appreciative and thankful for the time and love that they shared with me. They all helped to tend and nurture me as a child, and helped me to become a caring and loving adult. Thank you all.