VANISHED

I began leaving home in the womb,
winter-weary parents packing up
kids and dreams, fleeing frozen for fallacy
ill conceived through jeweled blinders,
backs turned stubbornly on a kinder fate.

No Valley Girl at heart,
I came to rely upon mountains and creatures
too small for others’ eyes
before residential areas, subsumed by cloverleafs,
merged to obliterate views while human refuse piled up,
pockmarking Mother Nature’s fair face.

Indulging in what remained of pungent eucalyptus
and bright streamwater, dappled desert sunlight
shook through crescent foliage,
disrupted only when golf course dozers began pushing it,
face-down, into memory.

I knew stars then, before too many streetlights
overwhelmed their brilliance, and all the glittered heavens
dropped in dismay onto garish costumes and red carpets,
orange groves morphing into curbside lawns scythed
under blades of immigrant workers, slaves to glitterati
far removed from etched faces of arroyos and succulent nopales;
freeways bisecting the city’s heart like some mad surgeon on a bender.

As capillary-rich earth flesh receded beneath vast rivers of asphalt,
lack of sufficient life force banished my spirit from that place
as a numb acceptance of the inevitable set in;
sights fixed now on distant horizons.

14 comments on “VANISHED”

  1. Not so easy to decode this one. 🙂

  2. Quite exquisite, with not a single word feeling in the least jarring or unbefitting. Bela, I have only been following your work for a few months, but this piece strikes me as one of your very finest. Would it be impertinent to ask if you make such judgements yourself, or do you simply let each piece live its life as it will?

    • Hariod, first let me thank you once again for your kind consideration. Secondly, this piece began as prose months ago, languishing in Pages. (Lots of thoughts and bits ‘in the can’ there 😉) As I’m on vacation where I am able to creatively reflect a bit more, it surfaced to be worked as a poem. Three days after rediscovering and almost deleting it, I’m pleased with how it revealed itself to me. That’s the long explanation, which I can be known for when I am still pondering the question. Thank you, Hariod!

      • That makes perfect sense Bela, and as I was reading this work I was feeling a lyrical tinge, something like that, – a Joni Mitchell song anyone? – wondering if the form would stand modification in a different medium.

  3. Oh, good. Thank you! ❤️

  4. Dear Bela,

    Reading your verse, your closing lines resonate:

    “As capillary-rich earth flesh receded beneath vast rivers of asphalt,
    lack of sufficient life force banished my spirit from that place
    as a numb acceptance of the inevitable set in;
    sights fixed now on distant horizons.”

    To me, the ‘numbness of the acceptance’ is really not an abject surrender. To me, it iarises from the domain of generative language allowing strategic envisioning of possibilities. Of possibilities which would soar beyond the ‘banishment of spirit from being stuck to the here and now’ to created future visible in the ‘distant horizons’…….

    Great stuff, loved it.

    Shakti

  5. The details you included in here are remarkable, Bela. I like the eucalyptus leaves and this made me think of how wonderful and pungent they smell. The stars instead of streetlamps also made me pause. Yes, I would much rather be away from the city lights and out where the sky spreads from one side to the other, lovely vistas… smiles!

    • Robin, thank you! And yes, eucalyptus even grows here in Hawaii, and I never miss a chance to pick up the leaves to rub them to release their pungent, delicious smelling oil! The photo is my sandaled foot in mountain eucalyptus on this island.

      There is a book currently going mainstream called “The End of Night” by Paul Bogard about city people actually losing their night vision due to too much stimulation from artificial light. That gave me the thought that sparked that addition to the piece. And since we grew up with a fair amount of Hollywood folks, the word ‘star’ took on its own garish meaning back in the day.

      Glad you appreciated the piece! Aloha.

  6. You are a very gifted writer and I see I have missed out on everything that gives such a wonderful and realistic view of the world. This sounds so much like the California I was raised in but could be so many place in this US of ours. Sad but true. A beautiful write.

    • Aloha again, Renee, and thanks so much! Yes, you nailed it – it Was in CA – I was raised in the foot of the San Gabriels before the 210 Freeway bisected (and changed forever) my hometown of Pasadena. Left for Maine when I graduated high school and never looked back.
      Thanks for the kind compliment ❤

      • I wasn’t exactly sure but your words captured it so well. I was raised in LA County in Downey. I go to visit my sister and father still but it is nothing like when I grew up. I am in Washington State now and would never move back.

      • I don’t blame you. We were in Hastings Ranch, almost in Sierra Madre. Now that isolated bit of east Pasadena is just part of the vast complex of LA. And so it goes! Best to be somewhere else, at least for me. On Hawaii Island with the live volcano now. So beautiful.


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