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Fields & Bracken – August 2023

Ann Bracken and Jo Fields traded art and words. Jo shared this image, titled “Teneramente,” with Ann:

In response, Ann wrote this poem:


Like violin notes leading
you down a winding street
Like the pink blush of
dogwood blooms
Like picking blackberries
heavy and lush on the vine
Like a lover’s kiss
on your sun-drenched shoulder


* * * * *

Ann shared this poem with Jo:

Silver Slipstream 

Just after midnight I startle at the touch of a hand on my shoulder.
Someone whispers in my ear, and I find myself standing in front of an 
open window, holding a bunch of violets. A portal appears, and I step onto 
an unfolding ladder of twinkling lights. I clutch the purple blooms to my chest and 
awake in a sepia-toned room that’s vaguely familiar. I’m sitting on a straight-backed Victorian chair seated next to Sylvia, my grandmother’s friend. 

Welcome, dear, do make yourself comfortable, but you know we don’t have much time. Oh, what am I saying? Sylvia laughs and sips from a cut-glass punch cup. Don’t look so surprised, sweet girl, you summoned me, although this time travel seems to work only in one direction. Come here, I’ll tell you everything you want to know.

The violets are still fresh in my hands, and I notice Sylvia’s hair is a tumble of curls 
loosely piled on top of her head. You’ve admired my dress, haven’t you? It’s the one I was wearing in the photo.  I blush, asking “How did you know about the album?” But she anticipates my question. Others have tried to visit, she smiles, but no one had the foresight to think of the violets.  One violet has already wilted as if it’s a talisman of lost time. 

Maybe she’s read my mind across time’s silver slipstream. Maybe I’m meant to be here. “Sylvia, what’s your secret? I’ve been charmed by you ever since I first saw your photo.”  
She blushes, roses blooming on her cheeks. Let’s get to it, dear. You can only stay until four violets wilt. I’ve some important ideas to share with you. I notice a second violet limp on my lap.

You’re curious about May— your grandmother— I presume? I work as a lace maker in the shop where she purchased her wedding gown. We took a liking to each other immediately. May’s full of fire, and even marriage can’t tame her, though heaven knows John is trying. 

Your grandmother corsets her fears and her anger the way she corsets her waist each morning. Don’t be fooled by her acquiescence to conventions; a steel fierceness propels her through life. One day soon she’ll break free of the stays and the laces, defying everyone’s expectations. May is a free spirit, and you’ll be well-served to let her life-choices guide you.

A solitary violet remains. Sylvia stands, and I know she’s leaving me before I can find all the answers I came for. She puts her finger to my lips, pats my hand and whispers, 

You  must always take risks.   Seek adventure.  Place fresh flowers on your desk. 

Know this: Your instincts are never wrong.

In response, Jo made this image, titled “Denoument”:

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