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Miller & Rivers – August 2021

Bethany Rivers and Bobby Miller traded art and words. Bobby shared this piece, titled “Spectral Event,” with Bethany:

In response, Bethany wrote this poem:

Crystal-Henge

My father had always told me 
bedtime stories of Crystal-Henge.
When I was five, I believed him.  
At thirteen, I didn’t.

At twenty-five, my friend Sara said, 
there really is a Crystal-Henge, 
but you can only see it 
at sunrise on a dark moon 
in September, at a certain spot 
outside the woodland glades, off Highway 99.

Obviously I thought she was nuts,
and promptly forgot about it.

Nine years later – my life was shining 
dark, marriage fallen, career uncertain, 
desperately home-seeking, missing dad, 
missing him, missing him so much – 
the date of his 22nd death anniversary 
approaching fast.

Sara, now living in France, 
remembered my birthday still, 
sent me a small crystal, 
a clear quartz, to hang round my neck.

I started to research Crystal-Henge 
with such fever, others’ sightings, 
stories behind it. Wondering if 
I was insane, I booked a week off work.

An ordinary field at the edge 
of the woods not far from the house 
of a once forgotten but famous writer of long ago.

I expected to see nothing, 
feel nothing.

Camping out, sizzling bacon on guilty 
white bread, with ketchup.  Watching 
the night darken.  Waiting for stars to fall.

Eventually, the sun lifted 
the shadows of night 
as if they were weightless.

Trees of ash, oak, linden and poplar
splintered the light between leaves.
Fractals of pink and green shone 
like a glitterball at a disco.

Three translucent objects appeared,
hovered in a semi-circle, 
with perhaps another two further away.  
They were not as tall as Stonehenge, 
perhaps the height of a basketball player.  They 
looked solid, but light and shade fell through them.  
They looked like magnified versions 
of the clear quartz around my neck.

I could’ve pinned it all 
on a self-fulfilling prophecy, 
hallucinations due to lack of sleep,  
a desperate need 
to believe.  But for one thing – 

outside the crystal-henge, about three foot 
from where I was standing, a small pool of light
haloed a tiny flame, daffodil yellow at the base,
shading up to royal blue at the tip; a steady flame
with no heat source, no fuel, attached to nothing.

This could also be 
a trick of the light, you might say, but 
here’s the thing I’ve never told 
anyone (as it never made any sense), 
and nobody had mentioned it 
in any of the accounts I’d read:

at the end of my father’s stories, there always appeared
a tiny flame of yellow, glowing to blue, forever 
shining until 
I fell into 
sleep. 

* * * * *

Bethany shared this poem with Bobby:

In the wake of the Pale of Settlement

They say it takes five generations
to feel settled again
after eviction
and I’m fourth generation

I never knew my great grandmothers
the ones who escaped the pogroms
in Russia & Poland
at the end of the 19th century

Their blood runs in my veins
though their memories are out of reach
and yet, I’ve been running all my life
trying to find a home

My back aches from all the lifting of boxes
of belongings that have nowhere to live
I can feel the redness of blood-tears
fall from shoulder blades down my spine

Every dark moon the grief rises
with nowhere to speak 
nowhere to go 
I paint the black & the red on a blank canvas

The canvas is 20 by 40cm
the black is the blackest acrylic I can find
I blow the crimson drops through a straw
watch them drip down the black silhouette

In response, Bobby made this image, titled “face”:

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