INSIDE... Nonfiction From Sara Etgen-Baker
Fiction From Eric G. Muller
Food & Drink From Wilma Seville
Haiku From Patricia Anne McGoldrick
Poetry From Richard King Perkins II
Halcyon Winter 2012
ISSN: 2291-0255 Frequency: Quarterly Founding Editor|Designer: Monique Berry
Contact Info http://halcyonmagazine.blogspot.ca email@example.com 1-905-549-3981
Special Notices Halcyon has one time rights. See website for subscription details. No photocopies allowed.
IN THIS ISSUE Contributors: Amanda Carl, Carl Palmer, Eric Muller, Irene Davis, Irene Ferarro-Sives, Jason Constantine Ford,
John Grey, JoyAnne O’Donnell, Linda White, Michael Canavan, Patricia Anne McGoldrick, Rebecca Rose Taylor, Richard King Perkins II, Sara Etgen-Baker, Wilma Seville
Poetry 4 The Possible Existence of Snow 5 Winter Night 9 Lake House 9 Mother Earth 12 A Christmas Acrostic 13 Christmas at Gore Park 13 Being with Santa
Haiku 8 Patricia Anne McGoldrick
Season to Season A runner finds peace and wisdom in nature’s tranquility.
10 Light in the Forest A surprise awaits cub scouts during an excursion one snowy evening.
20 Winter Work Winter is captured in this long past prairie memory.
Fiction 14 A Gift Left Behind A glimpse through a keyhole in the attic becomes a glimpse of hope of rekindling a joyous family tradition.
9 JoyAnne O’Donnell 13 John Grey
17 The Snowball Fight
Food & Drink
23 The Bouquet
19 Time for Tea
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When unspoken promises are broken, the sweet turns to bitter surprise for the naive and hopeful.
What happens when a man forgets Valentine’s Day!
Front and back cover ©www.photoxpress.com/ChantalS
FROM THE EDITOR New Beginnings Welcome to the premier issue of Halcyon! I love new beginnings. Don’t you? The idea for this magazine originated from an image on the internet—a sunrise. The photographer so captured its beauty that it took my breath away. I closed my eyes and tried to capture that halcyonic feeling. Then I found the poem “A Psalm to My Beloved” by Eunice Tietjens (1884-1944). This combination created a desire to see beautiful images and inspiring words in print. For the next issue (Spring 2013), I’m hoping to have a Letters section. I’d like to hear from the contributors and readers. Do you like the concept of Halcyon? Did any story, poem, or article stir up memories of a peaceful time in your life? Positive or negative, let me know what you think. Send an email to the address below. The best part of being the founding editor of a magazine is having the privilege of finding literary talent. I am impressed with the quality of writing represented in this edition. A hearty thanks to the contributors for choosing Halcyon. It’s been my privilege to showcase your talent. Keep thinking Halcyon thoughts.
Founding Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
CONTRIBUTORS JOHN GREY, an Australian born poet, works as financial systems analyst. He was recently published in Bryant Poetry Review, Tribeca Poetry Review and the horror anthology, “What Fears Become” with work upcoming in Potomac Review, Hurricane Review and Pinyon. Contact John at email@example.com. WILMA SEVILLE resides in Hamilton, Ontario. Her articles, poetry and short stories have been published in print as well as in on-line publications. She served over seven years on the Hamilton Arts Council Literary Advisory Committee, and holds membership in Tower Poetry, Hamilton Poetry Center, World Poetry and The Hamilton Club. Contact Wilma at firstname.lastname@example.org. SARA ETGEN-BAKER is a retired educator who enjoys writing personal narratives and memoirs— many of which have been published in anthologies including her story “Journey with Mother,” “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall,” and “When Santa Claus Came to Town.” Several manuscripts have also appeared in Looking Back Magazine and Storyteller Magazine. She's a regular contributor at Tiny Lights, and is currently working on her first novel entitled Dillehay Crossing. Contact Sara at email@example.com.
Halcyon Winter 2012
The Possible Existence of Snow By Richard King Perkins II Like a flying insect around a broken bulb, the temperature hovers near nothingness today, restless for a slip of wind or nudge of sun to find measurable distinction. A young girl asks her father why they've never built a snowman, haven't grafted odds and ends to his personality until he drizzles away, returned to earth and sky. Out the backyard window, something unknown has dashed across a casement of snow, to tread briefly between the cord of cherry and icicle tree, before scampering through the side yard.
A tinge of preschool and traces of her hodge-podge snowman, still anticipating a gust of sun and recognition as something more— but before he can gather snow, become distinct, the once young girl is gone.
“She is running to tell him a secret but he is difficult to perceive.”
RICHARD KING PERKINS II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He has a wife named Vickie and a daughter named Sage. His work has appeared in hundreds of publications including Prime Mincer, The Galley Sail Review, Sheepshead Review, Fox Cry, The Red Cedar Review and Prism Review. Contact Richard at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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© Can Stock Photo Inc. / Paha_L
Unmistakable portraits these are his daughter's footprints ten years from today. She is running to tell him a secret but he is difficult to perceive. She stops for a minute between the woodpile and heavy mulberry tree, paused with the faint taste of earliest memory.
Winter Night By Irene Davis Softly falling, whitely swirling twinkling gems light up the night. Gently settling, drifting, deepening enfold the land in swaths of white. Branches bare, starkly waving spidery arms to the silver-blue sky. Lift their fingers, opened, curling to catch the snowflakes falling by. Feel the crisp cold breezes blowing
ÂŠ www.photoxpress.com|Andrei Kazarov
feel the kiss of snowflakes light. Feel a world of beauty calling walk in Winter's starry night.
IRENE DAVIS is a writer based in Toronto, ON. In 2006 she was awarded the Peter Gzowski Literacy Award of Merit by ABC Life Literacy Canada, for an article in The Globe and Mail about her experiences as a volunteer tutor in Adult Literacy. She also teaches an online grammar course focusing on common problems. As well, Irene edited and contributed to Prose To Go: Tales From A Private List, an anthology of personal essays by 18 writers in locations across Canada, from the Northwest Territories to Prince Edward Island. It was published in 2011 by Bridgeross Communications, www.bridgeross.com. Contact Irene at email@example.com.
Halcyon Winter 2012
By Sara Etgen-Baker At 60 years of age, this writer still runs eight miles every day through the serene, wooded trails near her home. Throughout the seasons, she frequently transcends the physical pain and necessary endurance to run, often finding peace and wisdom in nature’s tranquility.
hen the alarm sounded, I wanted to continue sleeping. Instead, I slid out of the warm sheets away from the comfort of my husband’s body; peeked through the venetian blinds; and noticed graceful flakes of pearlywhite lace had dusted the tree-lined trails adjacent to my home. Even though the mercury hovered just below freezing, I knew today was the perfect day for a solitary winter run. So, I quietly donned my winter running clothes and headed downstairs. Daylight had not yet turned the slumberous, dark blue clouds to their morning gray, and—for a moment—I hesitated at my front door not wanting to disturb winter’s
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peaceful silence. When I stepped outside, my warm breath mingled with the crisp, cold air as it stung my cheeks. As I began to run, my stiff legs begged me to turnaround; I ignored their cries knowing they would soon stop complaining. Only my footfalls broke the silence as the gentle snow crunched under my feet. As I ran through the woods that morning, nary an animal crossed my path; their tracks in the snow indicated that they had been here before me though. The nippy air frosted my breath, and soon my breathing mixed with my footfalls creating a rhythm. I ran effortlessly past fallen trees along the creek side with no
Season to Season
thought of time or distance. I wasn’t aware of speed either—just movement. I ran past an icy pond cloaked by barren, frost-covered trees trembling like skeletons in the brisk wind. Snow began falling around me making me feel as if I was running in a snow globe. Soon, winter’s tranquility and purity enveloped me; time and distance became meaningless, and I imagined that the woods looked as it once did 100 years ago. For a brief moment I thought I saw Henry David Thoreau in the distance standing outside his cabin near Walden Pond. Yet, off in the distance there was absolutely nothing except for what was right in front of me—miles of solitude. For years I’ve run alone along these trails in the woods—a quiet, almost sacred place every bit as wondrous as Walden Pond. Generally, the only sounds I regularly hear on these solitary runs are birds chirping, small animals collecting nuts, and my feet as they gently land on leaves, pine straws, or snow. I occasionally hear the pitter-patter of rain drops as they hit leaves and fall onto the underbrush and forest floor. Sometimes a light rain cools my perspiring body and soothes my spirit. Frequently, I immerse myself in my thoughts and dreams and feel invigorated. Other times, the solitude nourishes the seeds of stories germinating in my head. Here in the woods, though, solitude—as silent and powerful as light itself—forces introspection. So, I linger in the solitude emptying and quieting my mind; then, I let go of the world and my ego—journeying inwards. Here, I sometimes hear my inner voice whispering to me; I occasionally meet myself face-to-face and find the being within—the true self—that has been waiting patiently to be released. Solitude has flung open the door of
“Snow began falling around me making me feel as if I was running in a snow globe.” wisdom—amplifying self-awareness metamorphosis of my spirit occurs.
At some point I continue running—grateful for the solitude and the balance I feel. I turn around, follow my footprints, and return in the direction from whence I came. Reluctantly, I approach the end of my solitary run—not wanting it to be over. From season to season I’ve run alone along these quiet trails in the nearby woods, but never once have I felt lonely. Strange. Why is that? True, some would equate this solitude with loneliness. On the surface solitude and loneliness are similar; yet just below the surface, they are quite different. Solitude is refreshing while loneliness is punitive and harsh. Solitude is rich and full while loneliness is empty and hollow. Solitude is the glory of being alone in awareness while loneliness is the pain of being alone in isolation. Solitude is desirable while loneliness is not. Solitude restores body, mind, and spirit while loneliness depletes them. Have I ever felt lonely while running? No. How could I feel lonely when my inner spirit is there to comfort me? Have I ever felt alone while running? No, I’ve never felt alone—just unaware. Have I ever been alone while running? Yes, I’ve been alone while running, and being alone is exactly what I needed to be.
Halcyon Winter 2012
ite night and wh oughout the s u o r d Won all thr lakes f ight f w o n S r ng so b Morni
ight es lstice l nches of tre o s r e t a Win re br ens ba Bright er delight! b Decem ldrick McGo e n n A ia Patric
PATRICIA ANNE MCGOLDRICK is a Kitchener, Ontario Canada writer whose poetry and reviews have been published in the Christian Science Monitor, The WM Review Connection, and ChapterandVerse.ca. Poems have been published in anthologies: Animal Companions, Animal Doctors, Animal People; Beyond the Dark Room, an international collection of transformative poetry, with proceeds from book sales being given to Doctors Without Borders/MSF; Poetic Bloomings--the first year. She is a member of The Ontario Poetry Society and the League of Canadian Poets. Contact Patricia at any site below. Patricia-Anne-McGoldrick.com PMPoetWriter.blogspot.com Twitter: @pamcgoldrick
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Lake House By JoyAnne O’Donnell
© www.photoxpress.com|Victor de Groote
I live in a lake house it sees grace with time from harsh winters to warm healing fireplace time for reading time for caroling time to heal time with natures perfect appeal. The lake is hearing snowflakes fall a special time to always recall of gentle sunlight whispering through the valleys a calm balm of white light penetrates from lands porch. Sleighs slide their pedals with the winds silver medals looking expensive to touch I adore nature so much.
JOYANNE O’DONNELL enjoys the peaceful serenity of writing poems. She draws angels, landscapes, and loves swimming in the lake. Contact JoyAnne at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The sun naps behind the clouds in winter's hour for an adventure. JoyAnne O’Donnell
Mother Earth By Amanda Carl Mother Earth; she shines lending her various handshakes to the land below. Sturdily built. This I have rarely feigned before. Spilling out over the land; a wash so pure she rinses clean the morning.
AMANDA CARL received a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing with a concentration in Poetry from Montclair State University in 2010. Several poems have been featured in the publication, The Normal Review. Contact Amanda at email@example.com
Halcyon Winter 2012
Light in the Forest By Eric G. Muller For children, festivals are often a time of wonder, awe and even fear. During my stay in Davos, Switzerland, I experienced all three emotions when I was led into the woods one snowy evening, together with the other cub scouts. A surprise awaited us at the end of our quest.
n the second year of our stay in Davos, Switzerland, my brother and I became Cub Scouts. We received blue uniforms trimmed with gold. I didn’t care too much for it, but I liked the leather pouch which we could sling across our shoulders. We met once a week and did all sorts of projects, went on little excursions, and learned basic survival skills. I always tagged along behind my big brother who could do everything. Sometimes he helped me. I needed a lot of help. The winters in Davos are long. Snow covers the green for seven months of the year. During this time we did things like tie knots and learn how to use a compass. One evening, however, our resolute leader told us we would go for a walk. This was exciting, especially since it was already dark outside. We sauntered through the village up to the promenade behind the hotels and sanatoriums (where the recovering TB patients liked to stroll). From there we had a wonderful view of the town below us: the outdoor ice rink (biggest in the world) all lit up with little stick figures playing hockey, or racing around and pirouetting; and further to the right the church with its steep steeple, clustered with houses like sheep around a shepherd. Davos, nestled in the snow covered Alps, looked cozy and comfortable with its warm lights spread out below us. We veered off the promenade and followed a narrow path through the thick snow. As we walked in single file into the forest, large soft snowflakes came floating down. Most of them were caught by the large pine trees already heavy with snow. Soon we couldn’t see any of the yellow lights of Davos anymore. We were in the dark, except for the ghostly white of the snow. We were a loudly chatting troop when we’d first set out, but now we trudged along panting in silence. The going got tough when the Cub Leader led us off the path. With every step we sunk deeper into the soft untrammeled snow. Going uphill didn’t make it any easier, nor did the thick flakes that fell– silent and steady.
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As the dark and dense forest closed in, our panting increased, my nose got cold and began to drip, and I could feel my toes beginning to freeze. I was not enjoying this excursion anymore. I could hardly see anything and kept very close to my brother in front of me. We didn’t talk but he was wheezing too. Suddenly our leader stopped, held up both of his shadowy arms and said, “Shush … quiet … listen.” We all stopped, held our breath and listened. I heard nothing except for the blood pounding against my temples. My throat tightened and grasped the back of my brother’s anorak. It was so dark. “Look,” someone whispered. “Where?” another asked. “Over there.” I could see his black arm pointing up the mountain. Ahead of us, through the crowded trees, I saw a little light, barely visible. As we all strained to see the tiny speck, another lit up next to it, and then another, and another. We all wondered what it could mean. Then, at once, I recognized what it was. Simultaneously one of the boys whispered in awe – “It’s candles on a tree.” “It’s a Christmas tree,” I murmured, forgetting how chilled I was. “Let’s find out,” the patrol leader said, festively. We approached slowly and in expectant silence. By the time we stood in front of the tree in the small clearing all the candles were lit–innumerous small flames giving light to the night, some flickering, others perfectly still. We just stood around in hushed wonder, gazing at the beautiful spectacle. “How about some hot chocolate to warm you up,” said one of the smiling parents who’d secretly come up before us to light the candles and to prepare this feast for us.” We forgot our fears, our cold wet toes, and huddled together, talking and laughing, all the while peering up at the candles. The hot chocolate warmed my body, but the sight of the lit tree in the darkness warmed my soul.
ÂŠ www.photoxpress.com|Galina Barskaya
ERIC G. MĂœLLER is a musician, teacher and writer living in upstate New York. He has written two novels, Rites of Rock (Adonis Press 2005) and Meet Me at the Met (Plain View Press, 2010), as well as a collection of poetry, Coffee on the Piano for You (Adonis Press, 2008). Articles, short stories and poetry have appeared in many journals and magazines. Visit his website at www.ericgmuller.com.
Halcyon Winter 2012
A Christmas Acrostic By Rebecca R. Taylor
ÂŠ www.photoxpress.com| James Steidl
Christmas caroling Holiday songs Reindeer playing Icicles on their noses Santa in his workshop Trying out toys Making magical moments As Christmas Eve approaches Sleigh bells ring in anticipation
REBECCA ROSE TAYLOR lives on a farm near the St. Francis River in Quebec. Her recent works have been included in Long Story Short, Barebacklit, The Montreal Review, Dark Fountain Magazine and Perspectives Magazine. When Rebecca isnâ€™t reading or writing, she enjoys knitting, quilting and crocheting. Contact Rebecca at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Christmas at Gore Park By Wilma Seville Twinkling lights on Gore Park trees little children shout with glee riding in miniature red train I see them through my windowpane.
rooftops in winter red-tile, skylight and funnel smoking like chimneys
Parents, grandparents, older siblings shuffle feet to keep from freezing as the snow starts to whirl around the little red train does its round.
Faces all aglow from the cold little children a sight to behold scarves wrapped around red faces snowsuits and boots with laces.
WILMA SEVILLE has lived in Lachine, Montreal and Toronto, and now resides in Hamilton, Ontario. Her articles, poetry and short stories have been published in print as well as in on-line publications. She served over seven years on the Hamilton Arts Council Literary Advisory Committee, and holds membership in Tower Poetry where she was on the Executive Committee for three years, Hamilton Poetry Center, World Poetry and The Hamilton Club. Contact Wilma at email@example.com.
Fingers tingle in red mittens hands and feel almost frost-bitten Santa’s elves in North Pole two are here playing their role. Gore Park is a wonderland lights, falling snow – a fairyland.
Being with Santa By Jason Constantine Ford I sit upon the lap of Santa Claus as other children wait in line. Santa is telling me of how the gifts of Christmas are ready to be mine.
© www.photoxpress.com|Andrey Kiselev
A promise is made contingent upon desire of mine to behave good. Santa’s words are sweet upon the lips as I relax into a gentle mood. The honour of sitting on his throne with people passing through a mall, elevates my sense of who I really am as self-esteem is rising up as tall. JASON CONSTANTINE FORD is from Perth in Australia, where he works as an employee at a book shop. He has over fifteen years of experience in studying various styles of poetry. But William Blake’s ability to address the social issues of his time through poetry and painting has had a lasting impact upon Jason’s early years. Contact Jason at JasonConstantineFord@gmail.com.
Halcyon Winter 2012
A Gift Left Behind
By Michael Canavan
Her older home under renovation, limited funds, and last year’s decorations lost in the move has Amaya worried that this year’s Christmas may arrive bleak and uncelebrated. But a glimpse through a keyhole in the attic becomes a glimpse of hope of rekindling a joyous family tradition. “I can’t believe it!” grumbled Shanna. “It’s like we’re not even going to have a Christmas, all because of this stupid house.” Amaya watched her stepsister rummage through the pile of boxes against the wall in the second floor hallway. At one end a narrow stairway wound up to the third floor and the attic. At the other end a wide, oak stairway passed a stained glass window going down to the foyer and the living room. Amaya could hear her mother and stepfather argue over the wallpaper her mother had bought. It wasn’t the color or pattern, but that she had bought it. Her stepfather’s deep voice boomed. “Celia, we’ve got to finish structural repairs first. Worry about the wallpaper after I’ve finished spackling and sanding the walls!” Leon owned a construction
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company specializing in renovating old homes. They had had their eyes on this house for years. “I’d like at least one room nice for Christmas,” replied Amaya’s mother. She’d often told Amaya that the living room was the center of a home. Although shabby with age and chipping paint, the room featured an oak fireplace and a bay window seat lit by four windows capped with transoms of stained glass holly leaves. Shanna barked, scattering Amaya’s thoughts like wind-blown snow off the roof of the old house. “Stop standing around and help me find the ornaments!” Amaya pulled open the flaps of a box perched on top of several others and rummaged inside. “Are you sure they’re here?” “Mom said they were,” Shanna replied. Amaya smiled. Shanna had stopped calling her mother Celia recently and finally seemed comfortable with it. “What are you guys looking for?” asked Quentin . “Nothing,” Amaya huffed. She didn’t want her stepbrother involved. Quentin enjoyed convincing Shanna to play pranks on Amaya because she was the youngest. Shanna answered, “The Christmas decorations.” He shot Amaya a mischievous grin and announced, “They’re up in the attic with our presents.” “Let’s go!” Shanna started for the third-floor staircase followed by Quentin. Amaya held back. “Come on, Amaya!” insisted Shanna. Although suspicious, Amaya couldn’t resist. She snatched a flashlight from a toolbox by the stairs. “There’s nothing here,” sighed Amaya, as she stood in the center of the attic. Dust lay thick on the floorboards, and dim bulb hung from the ceiling. She heard giggles and a door thump shut, which plunged her into darkness. She screamed, turned around blindly in the dark, and then clicked on the flashlight. A door appeared in the circle of light. She ran to it and pulled the handle. It wouldn’t open. She knelt and shone the light through the keyhole, expecting to see the stairway. Instead, she smelled the faint aroma of pine needles, heard a distant bell toll, and saw three intricately-carved figures looking down at a baby in the manger. Her light shone through the keyhole onto the nativity scene like the star of Bethlehem. “I found them!”
“If you’re looking for your presents, they’re not in there.” Their mother wore a bemused smile as she leaned against the attic doorframe, “and, I can’t find the key to that door.” Quentin pointed an accusing finger at Amaya and then the locked door. “She said the decorations were in there.” “They’re not. I thought they were in the moving boxes but I guess they were left at the old apartment.” “No. Look. I found them.” Amaya grabbed the flashlight from her brother and aimed it at the keyhole. Her mother knelt before the door, and tried to see and aim the light through the keyhole at the same time. “I can’t see a thing. It’s an empty crawlspace.” “One gift each,” her mother told them as she put on her coat and gloves. “So, make it count. Moving and house repairs have left us broke.” “Did you call our old landlord about the decorations yet?” asked Amaya. The moving boxes had been emptied, flattened, and left at the curbside without a trace of decorations from Christmases past. It was next week and the house was about as festive as a toothache. “He said they must have got lost in the move,” replied Leon. Amaya shouted back, “That’s not fair!” This whole Christmas got lost in the move!” Celia replied soundly. “You can just stay home and think about what Christmas is really about. We’re going to the mall.” Quentin, the last to leave, stuck his tongue out at Amaya as he closed the door. Amaya looked around the drab living room. The walls needed painting, and the once-beautiful hardwood floors were scratched and dented. She frowned at the bare Christmas tree and thought back to other Christmases. Had they been better? They had a house now instead of that drafty apartment. And, they had a family now. That was a gift that you couldn’t buy at the mall. She felt guilty for yelling at her mother. If this room were decorated it would look so much better. “We had a whole box of construction paper and art materials,” she told herself. “If I can find it, maybe I can put some Christmas spirit into the place before they get back.” She glanced at the window seat. “That’s as good a place as any to start looking.” She pulled on
the lid, but it wouldn’t budge. It had been painted shut. After scraping away at the paint between the window seat and the box with a butter knife, she gave the lid a hard pull. It gave way with a crack and the lid swung upward. A key hung from a nail under the window seat. Amaya twisted the key, opened the attic door and aimed her flashlight into the crawlspace. Kaleidoscopic flickers reflected back at her. She swept the flashlight across boxes of crystal ornaments, glimmering swags of garland, and a wreath of silver leaves and gold berries. Stepping closer she gazed with amusement at a fist-sized zeppelin resting in tissue paper beside a blownglass orb, its colors iridescent in the shaft of light. Peering out of a bed of tissue, a jovial Santa Claus carried a burgeoning sack of toys. Like the house, the decorations were antique and beautiful. On a shelf above the array was the nativity scene she had seen through the keyhole. It was even more striking in the bright beam of light. Mary’s face was glowing and porcelain-smooth. The angel smiled reverently. Joseph’s face beamed as he looked down at baby Jesus asleep in profound innocence. When Amaya’s family returned carrying packages and the crisp smell of winter in with them, they were greeted by boughs of silver garland looping outward in all directions from the chandelier in the foyer. The garland circled the banister of the oak staircase, and glass ornaments hung from the doorframe of the entryway into the living room. They gasped as they entered the living room. Crystal snowflakes hung from the ceiling, twinkling in light cast by candles ablaze on the mantle. The nativity scene rested in the center of the window seat, dramatically framed by the four bay windows. Their eyes rested on the peaceful scene of familial tranquility that have inspired and touched souls for two thousand years. One-by-one, they approached the bare Christmas tree and began hanging the zeppelin, the Santa Claus, and all the other ornaments Amaya had arranged around the base of the tree. After all, decorating the tree was a family event. And the trimmings—a gift left behind. MICHAEL CANAVAN is a freelance non-fiction and advertising copywriter, graphic designer, and professional artist working in Central New York. He has several short stories published and two novels in progress.
Halcyon Winter 2012
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ÂŠ www.photoxpress.com|Stas Perov
Snowball Fight By Irene Ferarro-Sives Best friends, best loves, and best times: these are the songs we sing when life is a sleigh full of gifts yet to be opened. When unspoken promises are broken, the sweet turns to bitter surprise for the naive and hopeful.
t snowed, for Elma, the way it does in legends. Elma loved the snow. It was her story. Unlike others, she did not fear it. Not the slipperiness, not the cold. She looked grand in it, like a sled. Her cheeks glowed and she puffed puffs of smoke. She was a locomotive, churning distance under her iron will. Snowflakes whirled around her. Sometimes her mother called, “Elma, Elma,”— her voice bouncing off the rooftops. With nowhere to go her voice would fall to the sidewalks and disappear beneath them. It mingled with the sound of happenings underground. It erupted with the various noises of traffic and travelers tap-tapping through the busy hours and the quiet ones. Elma would wait for Mother’s voice to melt into the snow. Then she would answer, first filling her lungs with frosty air to push her words to where her mother could hear her. “What do you want?” Her booming sound would gouge the white landscape like a hurricane. Shovelers’ ears would tingle. Alley cats would run for cover. No one could shame a blizzard into reticence, nor could one silence Elma. She was the roar from the bottom of a storm. Robin was a boy Elma knew. His name was a giveaway. He bore no resemblance to the bird of his name. His eyes did not match the blue of a robin’s eggshell. Yet his appearance was timed with the seasons. He came in the winter, occasionally with the snows, and then departed. He came again in the spring, alighting on the open grasses for awhile and then flying away. He would come in the summer and never seem to be around. Then with the first chill of early autumn he would be gone again. Elma understood his flight was like that of a bird. He flew higher than other people she knew because of where he was going. The broad unmarked sky was his. Secretly, Elma longed one day to go with him, maybe when he unfurled his wings for that last time, leaving his mother and father in their nest over the grocery store. She ached to be his partner in flight and to be
his. She wanted to open her wings under the warm golden sun like he did. In an arc of love and escape, she would make for the unknown horizon. Robin’s partner for life. She wore those words in an unseen bangle around her heart. NaNa, short for Nancy, was Elma’s true friend— her buddy of the snows. Girlfriends for keeps, they wandered together like struggling explorers. It isn’t that they knew beforehand what they were going to find. They were adventurers of no purpose. They hunted for pieces of life, unaware of what they were doing. Every now and then they would discover a treasure. Sometimes they would find it on the land where no footsteps had ever trodden. Sometimes they would find it among the ruins of an older generation. Their love for one another was gold from another country. They were confidants, and proud of their ability to hold one another’s secrets. They were ships carrying the precious freight of friendship, weathering every storm, finding harbor in a peaceful place of their own. Locked in their adolescent moment, the future was a distant shore as yet unseen. Elma and NaNa were visiting one snowy December day. The dusky blue afternoon was like a magic cloth. Laid out on the landscape, it pulled out the stars that twinkled in the new white mountains. The powder hills were like free mounds of sugar. The two girls tasted them, the offerings of the sky. With frozen clouds inside and out, they plundered the snowflake mines. What could be better than to be joined by Robin. He sauntered out of the streaking wind, arrogant in the face of ice and females. He was graceful, balancing on the edge of their lives, poised there, carefully constructing his entrance. Elma eyed her from under her huggy woolen hat. She wondered what he was up to. He stood still. He said nothing. Yet, just to see him caused her nerves to jump up like a puppy dog greeting its favorite human pet. She felt (Continued on page 18)
Halcyon Winter 2012
(Continued from page 17)
her breath racing forward like the tumbling snow and wind. “Robin,” Elma called, “are you home again?” With that, Robin suddenly pulled a snowball out of nowhere and flung it at NaNa. She screamed with chortling outrage. She scooped up a dismaying handful of snow and packed it eagerly into a lumpy ball. Some of the lumps broke off and fell between her fingers. Hauling back her arm, she threw the snowball at Robin. It landed somewhere in the vicinity of his chest. Likewise, he screamed with false outrage. Elma laughed. She cooed inside like the pigeon queen of brick verandas under flowering branches. Scooping a handful of snow herself, she packed it into a dense ball. She tossed the round love weapon at Robin. It caught him in the shoulder and he giggled. Elma bent down again to grab some more snow. “Hide and seek,” he shouted. “And a snowball fight, both at the same time.” “You’re on,” NaNa shouted back. “You girls hide,” he yelled, covering his eyes. “And no cheating.” Elma and NaNa ran to find mystifying hiding places. “Let’s hide in different spots,” NaNa whispered to Elma. “That way it will be harder for him to find us.” Elma agreed; the two friends went their separate ways. Elma paced, heart-in-mouth, searching for a hiding place in which she would be easily seen but not obvious. The snow-blurred smokestacks of the city observed her complacently, wondering where she was going as they belched industrial exhaust into the already gray sky. She found the dark and humid doorway of a factory to hide in. Workers usually smoked cigarettes on their breaks, but today no one was there except Elma. “I can’t believe I’m having a snowball fight with Robin,” she said. She stood breathless in the frigid loneliness of scarred wood and peeling paint. Talking out loud seemed natural. She was high with feeling as the snowdrifts blowing furiously against the timebeaten door that she leaned on. “I’m flying,” she said again. “I am as one with the wind as a blizzard.” Would she touch Robin or would he touch her in the casual contact sport they were playing? She had already touched him with a snowball and he had touched her with his soul without meaning to. Would he touch her with his hand without meaning to? Would he casually brush past her like a storm taking her longing with him? The thought filled her with a thrill that was rare to possess. Robin’s laughter was ringing through the torn curtains of snow, followed by a shower of NaNa’ s
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girlish hoots. Tracing the sounds on the air, Elma ran to find her friends. When she turned the corner by the luncheonette, she skidded and almost fell but regained herself, continuing on. Finally, in a parking lot she found the two. Elma watched them from a distance before joining them. They hadn’t seemed to notice her. They were involved with one another, wrestling a snow-covered fleece hat between them. It belonged to NaNa. Elma recognized the sky blue even under the snow. It was NaNa’s favorite color. With the word “Hey” pressed to her lips, Elma watched as Robin pulled the hat over NaNa’s head and kissed her on the mouth. It was a long kiss, the kind of which romantic girls dream. It settled whatever questions Elma may have had about her love. The future fell to a hard surface like a glass landscape. Robin was not hers. NaNa lowered her eyes and smiled the smile of the victorious. Elma backed away, refusing to be understood, her heart murmuring a litany of protests, her eyes unwilling to believe what they had taken in. She searched in a pained panic for another hiding place from them, from herself, from all knowing senses wherever they were to be found. She did not want to be looked at for awhile. A piece of her did not want to be looked at ever again. The snow looked different. It looked like someone else’s. NaNa had taken this moment that was to have been hers. Neither she, nor Robin, would ever belong to her again the way they had. She ambled along the city lanes for a long time, letting the falling snow accumulate on her until she was covered. Glancing at herself in a shop window, she looked like a snowwoman walking the streets. And so she found her way back to her house. There she began o gather snow, rolling it into a ball so large she could barely roll it anymore. She finally found a spot for it and left it there. Then she constructed another huge ball, though not so big as the first. She pushed the smaller ball on top of the larger ball and continued. She put together a third snowball smaller than the other two, and plopped it on top of the stack. She ripped two buttons off her coat and put them in the smallest ball for eyes. There was the snowman to her snowwoman. IRENE FERARRO-SIVES was born in Brooklyn,NY. She currently lives in New Jersey with her husband, and has been writing since she was nine. Contact Irene at firstname.lastname@example.org
all and winter is closing in on us. Time to enjoy the comforts of home. Here are a few ideas to warm your heart and inner being. Fennel seed tea Caraway seed tea Anise seed tea Rosemary tea Mint tea
These are only a sprinkling of the teas that you can make from different plants. Middle Eastern stores sell many of these seeds at extremely reasonable prices.
Proportions: 1 teaspoon of seeds to 8 ozs. of water. Put seeds in a tea ball, boil the water, and pour over the ball. Steep for 10 minutes. Enjoy! Save the seeds from the tea ball to make potpourri! As a special treat, I sometimes purchase teas made from flowers and fruits from specialty stores. The proportions are the same to make it.
Potpouri: Save the tea from the tea ball, spread it out to dry it. After a few days of drying, put it into any clean jar and gradually add to the jar from the different teas you have made such as mint, rosemary, anise, caraway, fennel etc. Gradually you will have a full jar. Wrap a pretty ribbon around it and put it out to add fragrance to your room. When the scent goes, can add a drop of essential oil but should not be necessary for quite some time.
Time for Tea
Photo credit: Wilma Seville
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
â€œThese are only a sprinkling of the teas that you can make from different plants.â€?
By Wilma Seville Halcyon Winter 2012
Winter Work By Linda White In Alberta, weather is a constant topic and winter is dreaded and abhorred by some of us. This year we are experiencing an old fashioned prairie winter with cold, wind and lots of snow. When I was a kid, it never occurred to me to complain and I spent a lot of time outdoors. Winter is a season with its own beauty and allure. I have tried to capture this in my memory of a long past prairie winter.
now crunches under the horses' hooves and squeaks as the runners of the sleigh slide over it. The winter sun is slanted; its weak, yellow light without warmth. The harness jingles and the sleigh creaks and groans as it bounces along the hard, icy track. There is no wind, but the cold, thin air stimulates red roses to bloom on our young cheeks. Hoarfrost ices the trees with a delicate tracery that turn them into sparkling confections. Winter hay scents the air with a sharp spiciness. Steam rises from the nostrils of the two horses as they willingly pull the sleigh to the pasture where white-faced cattle wait impatiently. My brother and I are along to "help" our father feed the cattle. We are oblivious to the sting of the brisk air and just happy to be outside. Doing chores with Dad is always fun and riding out to the pasture is best of all. Dad mostly ignores us unless we are particularly persistent. This day we are content to sit on top of the fragrant, soft hay. My father is dressed to face the rigors of an Alberta winter. He has a quilted cap with earflaps that are pulled down against the cold and his leather mitts are lined with hand-knitted woolen mittens. Somehow he manages the reins and the horses
while he stands, feet in felt socks, planted wide. His parka makes no fashion statement and was selected for climate and economy only. "Whoa." He pulls on the reins and when the sleigh stops, he takes the pitchfork and unloads the hay to the anxious cattle. He throws the it off first on side and then the other until the sleigh is empty and the sounds of rich, grassy stalks being chewed fill the air. On the way back to the yard, my brother and I hang off the back of the sleigh, bouncing up and down as it sways and shifts now that it has been emptied. We laugh and shout to one another and the horses break into a trot as they sense the end of their task. In the corral, Dad un-harnesses the horses and we clamor down. By this time even the fun of being outside "doing chores" is beginning to wear off. "My hands are cold," I whine. Cold mucous crusts my upper lip and my brother starts to complain. "Here," says Dad and removing his mitts and then mine, he takes my small hands in his own. In no time I'm ready to put my mitts back on. My father always had the warmest hands. ď Ž
â€œThe harness jingles and the sleigh creaks and groans as it bounces along the hard, icy track.â€?
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LINDA WHITE is a retired teacher who still substitute teaches. She has many other interests, among them writing. Linda currently has the first draft of a mystery almost finished. She enjoys camping, her grandchildren, dogs and travel. Visit her website at www.worfywhite.com/.
Halcyon Winter 2012
ÂŠ Can Stock Photo Inc. / the_guitar_mann
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ÂŠ Can Stock Photo Inc. / pressmaster
The Bouquet By Carl Palmer What happens when a man forgets Valentine’s Day!
here I was, Valentine’s Day, 7pm at the florist. Even with the reminder note sitting on my passenger seat, I didn’t notice it again until I’d pulled into my garage after driving from work a few minutes earlier. I restarted the car immediately and rushed out to buy flowers. Arriving home empty-handed on Valentine’s Day would be bad enough, but it’s also our 40th wedding anniversary. The small flower store is crowded with anxious, flustered men, obviously lovers, boyfriends and husbands like me, no different than the ones on any late Christmas Eve shopping for their last minute gifts, also like me. Professionally arranged blooms, sprays, corsages, and nosegays are seductively displayed on racks in the aisle and sitting on shelves covering two walls. More are behind the glass doors of a refrigerated showcase that reminds me of another store with similar cases containing ice cold beer. Returning my focus to the task at hand, I notice perfectly formed roses amid baby’s breath seem to be the favorite of most of the customers in line. Two busy sales clerks carefully wrap each purchase in shiny metallic paper, tissue or cellophane. Some are boxed, gift-wrapped and sealed with colorful ribbons and bows. Others are carefully placed in glass vases. Each transaction includes a free card to personalize for the lucky lady along with a special bonus coupon for the next visit. From the collection of cards I pick one that has a design of musical notes that says, “This Bouquet ~ The Perfect Poem” with a space to write words of my own, pen a whimsical rhyme or scribble in a quick “I love you, Happy Anniversary” and sign my name. While checking choices, options and prices, I reflect on our life together, husband and wife these past 40 years. I calculate the ten minute search for the present, maybe two minutes to choose a card, a five minute wait in line, another two minutes to pay and about one minute to be out the door. Total time: 20 minutes for 40 years.
I made my decision and bought a boxed orchid corsage. On the way home I used my cell phone to confirm tonight’s reservation at our favorite restaurant, thankful I booked it in advance early last month. Sitting in the driveway, as I search for poetic words to put on the card, I am reminded me that 40 years is not a dozen long-stemmed roses accompanied by a catchy stanza of rhyme. Forty years is a garland of intimate memories woven into a wreath of symbols, metaphors mingled and mixed, bunched and bundled through time. It is our garden where the commonplace, the exotic and the rare are tended and nurtured, to be gathered into a special bouquet of love. How did it go, our 40th anniversary date? Dinner Theater Into the menu smiling cheeks reflect candlelit white tablecloth islands amid the carpeted scurry of busboys and waiters in the backdrop of our night tinkling laughter and ice cubes accompany depths of conversation overheard yet unheard from couples in quorum around the raised platform at the center of the room noises diminish with dimming lights as all eyes are drawn to the spot center-stage except mine which remain upon you.
Happy Valentine's Day, my dear.
CARL “PAPA” PALMER, twice nominated for the Micro Award in flash fiction and thrice for the Pushcart Prize in poetry, grew up on Old Mill Road in Ridgeway, VA. Carl now lives the good life in University Place, WA. His motto: Long Weekends Forever . Contact Carl at email@example.com.
Halcyon Winter 2012
May you find Halcyon moments every day. Thanks for reading.
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ÂŠ DECEMBER 2012 | MONIQUE BERRY HAMILTON, ON, CANADA
Inspiring seasonal-related content featuring poetry, haiku, short stories, food/drink, and nonfiction articles.