Impression № 042: Boston

Kathleen Romana on her painting “lilacs in blue vase”:

The painting is acrylic on canvas. It is about things I loved as a child in Boston. I loved the pigeons, they were always on the fire escape (they’re everywhere in Boston), and in the spring walking home from school, there were lots of lilac bushes everywhere. (The smell is so amazing.) The apartment building that I lived in as a child looked out onto a little courtyard.


There’s a cool breeze blowing
through open apartment windows,
the smell of haddock and onions,
baked potatoes, cooking in the kitchen,
so I sit on the fire escape
and listen to city sounds,
people sounds, family sounds,
that travel up and down the block,
meander through alleyways,
and I think I’m obsessed with life.
All these people circling around the same questions
with so many different answers .. the same answers,
the answer … falls in light and shade
walks around and through,
laughing now and then.

Lately I wonder how life ever got so tangled,
war, after war, year after year,
no clear victory or defeat, no time,
to heal, or to read ancient writings, in the phases of the moon,
no patience, for slow revelation.
The importance of integrity of thought and action,
of mind and body is laid bare in this atmosphere,
where words seem to be set crosswise, or dangle
from webs of loosely formed fabrications,
and questionable motivation.

Washing dishes at the kitchen sink,
bubbles of soap float and pop under running water,
the dish rag glides over scraps of fish and potatoes,
clear water shimmers in sheets
over pale blue, green, and amber wild flowers
painted on the plate.
Wild flowers, have such a short season I think,

when you measure time and distance in minutes and inches
that never stretch long enough. I place the dish in the drainer,
and watch dish water run out of the sink, like fear runs from tears.

Somebody’s playing Jazz upstairs, so I take my front row seat
on the radiator, feet on the window sill, and listen,
to the music, to night time sounds. Street lights blink on,
outlining the silhouette of a man and woman
on the stairs across the street. Jazz fills the small sliver of
air between their bodies, she runs her finger around the
rim of her glass, and I’m reminded of the Zen archer who is
one with the bow, the arrow, and the target..
There are other people moving in the background,
all with their own dangerous secrets, each with unique, singular meaning,
but this couple, seems to almost be a product of the sound,
it’s not what it looks like nothing ever is.
I’ve seen that man standing at the harbor at dusk,
looking out to sea. His church is out there,
where he worships watery ocean gods
gods of tide and storm.

She is my strength and my song,
this city where I grew up
cradled in her centered, balanced quietness,
aware of her harnessed fierceness, her engaged alignment,
It’s hard to describe sensation with words.
Words tend to remove the sting from pain, and the climax from pleasure,
and the mind only reveals itself, to itself, in visions.
I do know though, there were never, any boundaries,
not then, or now, that I did not allow.

* * * * *

Kathleen Romana grew up in Boston; she uses her hometown as a point of inspiration for some of her poetry and artwork. Kathleen is a poet, performer and visual artist, living in Austin Texas.


This week is being guest edited by Australian poet Michael Fitzgerald-Clarke.

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