art ~ spirit ~ transformation

e*lix*ir   #1
autumn 2015



  • Forging a Poetry of Hope
    by Sandra Lynn Hutchison

  • Poetry

  • Christine Anne Pratt
  • Harriet Pasca-Ortgies
  • Valerie Senyk

  • Fiction

  • The White Dog
    by Maya Bohnhoff

  • Memoir

  • Riding a Purple Bicycle
    in the City of Isfahan

    by Sahba

  • Reviews

  • Luminous Journey
    by Anne and Tim Perry
  • Prison Poems
    by Mahvash Sabet

  • Column

  • The Writing Life: Beginnings
    by Sandra Lynn Hutchison

  • Art

  • Paintings
    by Honnie Goode
  • Paintings
    by Louise Mould

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    Morning Glories

    I have become an inspector
    of vines, fingering trellis,
    checking for hints or clues.
    A test of patience,
    not a bloom the whole summer —
    I question location, soil, how much
    water to prevent wilting.

    Finally —
    October brings unexpected
    joy as spiral buds unfold
    in azure trumpets;
    their sticky white throats
    attract bees as one by one
    petals stretch under the sun.

    Each stem, a pitchfork of buds,
    ready to pierce through
    heart-shaped leaves, tendrils
    curling over, weaving
    a twelve foot tapestry
    of star-faced blossoms.

    Each sky-blue jewel only lasts
    a day — enough to slake the longing.
    At the kitchen window I watch,
    Consider the weather, soil,
    how to flower fully.


    By the back fence,
    plants that remember
    being pulled from wide beds
    of soil, crammed into plastic containers
    like toes pinched
    into shoes a size too small,
    must be removed
    from pots.

    Brutal — how we hack
    grass and weeds to clear
    ground for these neglected
    perennials. The real challenge
    is uncurling tightly wound roots:
    we force, press shovel point down,
    wiggle until
    they are freed
    without much damage.
    We tamp earth, water, encourage

    A few days of sun, roots spread,
    Reach boldly into new soil,
    as we, too, shake free
    of our enclosures,
    push upwards to the light.

    What Is Given

    (for Said Dini)

    Breakfast is a Persian landscape,
    just-picked cucumbers,
    peppers, tomatoes,
    almonds, feta cheese —
    green mounds of sabzi.

    Our host invites each guest
    to share stories —
    dust and determination —
    ancestors who followed
    where the journey led.

    Sipping tea, we savor
    partake of spirit.
    pass baskets of warm bread
    and prized peach jam.

    Outside the porch
    the peach tree’s abundance
    foretells the pleasure
    of the harvest —
    how the service of
    slicing, stirring,
    simmering ingredients
    in the hot August kitchen
    produces more
    than just a delicious preserve.

    Sampling the ambrosial spread,
    our tongues are enraptured.

    A parting gift of peach jam is given
    to carry home
    though your love travels
    so much further —
    even after
    the jar is empty.

    What We Need to Remember

    Each day is carefully listed:
    appointments, paperwork,
    restocking pantry, doing
    laundry, taking out garbage,
    sending the birthday card.

    Will I find time to welcome the universe?
    As I go about garden chores,
    I am greeted by my grandson.
    He holds questions with the toothy grip
    of a puppy. I want to finish
    quickly, but agree to let his six-year-old
    hands help water the plants.

    He asks to be sprayed so I retake hose,
    mist high his orange hair.
    A shower of blessings —
    he disappears inside, only to return
    naked, giggling and jumping into
    the now of nows.

    Sibling Meditation

    As you turn the soil in the dry
    palms of your hand
    I stir the roots of my garden,
    digging deep to loosen earth.
    Each in our separate
    plot, we pause —
    sensing, as a spider does,
    when silken filament is blown
    by the afternoon,
    the holiness of chance
    as our different paths come together
    in the same sifted dust
    this afternoon.

    How I wish I could tell you all I know of my garden.
    How I wish I could know yours.

    Perhaps it is enough
    we fill each other’s woven basket
    with our summer’s work?

    Harriet Pasca-Ortgies
    Artist missing photo
    Artist Statement:   I am inspired by the turning of nature’s seasons, especially spring and fall. To see life rise from the dead ground, buds appear on drab sticks, a purple crocus peeking through winter snow. When autumn breezes rattle through leaves, I feel an excitement, as if heavenly messengers are visiting, whispering thoughts in a language only my heart understands. Golden afternoons in the garden are a blessing. Pulling weeds becomes a meditation on what I need to pull from my own life — to make room for growth. I want to capture the nobility of ordinary life, to shine light on this spiritual journey.
    Bio:   Since retiring as a library media specialist, Harriet Fishman has been able to pursue her childhood passion for poetry and the arts. She embraced the Bahá’í Faith at an early age and is deeply committed to sharing its healing message of unity and peace. Harriet enjoys growing vegetables and flowers and creating a backyard natural habitat, which keeps her very busy. She has two grown sons, both teachers, who practice the arts.