Thursday, November 26, 2015

O bring back my Bonnie to me.

The raspy recorded notes of the strange, old Scottish folk song, My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean, chime out from the battery-operated player at the corner of my baby's crib.

My Bonnie lies over the ocean,
my Bonnie lies over the sea,
My Bonnie lies over the ocean,
O bring back my Bonnie to me.


One night in early September, a rubber raft of 12 refugees sets out secretly on the salt sea water ---families fleeing rubbled countries for unknowable peoples and their foreign cultures--- and on this night, the waves begin rolling and rising and rocking into the raft and soon after it departs, it capsizes and begins to deflate. But before she flips, the "captain", (a damn coward and a crook, I presume), jumps into the sea, fleeing his ill-fated vessel of rubber, rope and 12 refugees.

O blow ye winds over the ocean,
O blow ye winds over the sea.
O blow ye winds over the ocean,
And bring back my Bonnie to me.

Abdullah holds onto his two little boys and his wife and the sinking boat, because their life vests are useless and how can one possibly swim with frightened children in the scary, stormy dark? He had paid 6,000 euros to smugglers who promised him a 30-minute trip on a motorized fishing boat. He saved and borrowed all that money, and for what? - a disastrous journey in an overcrowded rubber raft that could hardly float. His wife, Rihan (who is 35), Galip (who's 5) and Aylan (who's only 3) all drown that night in the deep blue sea.

Last night as I lay on my pillow,
Last night as I lay on my bed,
Last night as I lay on my pillow,
I dreamed that my Bonnie was dead.


The next day, photographs of Aylan appear in all forms of front page media. It looks as if he's fallen asleep on the shore except his mouth is in the mud and his red t-shirt, his brown soled sneakers and his canvas shorts are soaked from the water that killed him and the waves that carried him.

The winds have blown over the ocean,
The winds have blown over the sea,
The winds have blown over the ocean,
And brought back my Bonnie to me.

I am three months a mother and I get nervous when my baby kicks her feet too excitedly in our plastic baby-sized bathtub and that's with my hands around her arms, my knees on a bath mat, her bum in the curved seat, and the water warm, just a few inches deep.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Poet and I

November 9, 1953, St. Vincent's Hospital, New York City, the body of a bard blued, more bile than bone after 18 straight whiskies. In photographs, Dylan Thomas is a light-faced European in a tweed suit jacket, wavy hair, sinking eyes, and the whale of a scowl with a cigarette's smoke spiral. He had a wife. He had lovers. He had two sons and one daughter. Dead 30 years before I was born to my mother. Today, I skip and trip maplessly through his circle city, a brined boot tour through hooks and netted metaphor. At 32, I'd like to soak his paper poems in my beef and carrot stew, let them sog, let them sink, a capsized crew. 

Were we to sit in the shallow ditches of a cafe's worn wooden benches, sipping coffees, dipping cookies, he'd see me speaking quickly and grossly optimistically, tipsy from the caffeine of little green beans. Maybe he'd slip nips of whiskey into his cup or scratch poems inside the ring stains on the tabletop....coffins, wombs, weather, salt-footed sea birds, fish fetor... If I overdosed on coffee as he supposedly died from whiskey (18 shots of espresso with milk frothy as carnival candy), I'd chug from my black bottomed mug, words spitting, rambling into a damn near trampling. 

Oh how I'd spin into an ugly oblivian. 

Back in reality, I gather groceries: one dozen eggs, a tin can of soft orange squash, apples, diapers, raspberries, coffee beans, and a carton of heavy whipping cream. I'm making pie for my birthday night. One avocado, organic purple onions, blackberries, breaded chicken breasts, green leaf lettuce. I am no Dylan Thomas, no doomed poet living by the sea from the first half of the 19th century. His death day is my birthday, but I am clean of cigarette soot, free from bottles of ripe scotch or the desire to be some dirty crook. I am happy and sappy and loved and in love and in love with love. My heart harbors no home, bakes no feast for the heaviest, hungriest of fragile beasts. I am simple and plain, obscure as a drop of rain. My problems are as small as the mice in the walls. So why would I ever tease tragedy with 18 straight whiskies?