Near 500 words: Ancestors

The woman in the door of the wooden hut stood before Rufus. Her dark hair and her brown eyes were full of life though her life was hard.

Her focus reminded Rufus of the last time he saw his father. It was late at night and the old man sat at his desk, studying a photograph of his father who had been gone some thirty years. There was a light in the old man’s eyes. It wasn’t the light from the table lamp. It was another kind of light. It was the light of memory.

Or was it more? Was it the light of someone who has experienced some piece of the divine in his life? Rufus’ father never spoke of his father.

“Can I have some water?” Rufus asked the woman in the doorway.

The woman smiled. Instead of water, she invited him inside her one-room house. A house that was spotlessly clean. In the corner was an altar to some god or other. He didn’t ask since he knew it would be as rude as asking his father about his grandfather. She brought him a cup of tea and offered him a seat on one of the three wooden chairs.

Rufus took out his camera and pointed to it. “Can I take your photograph?”

The woman blushed, then shook her head yes.

Rufus pointed and snapped several pictures. Then he finished his tea. He thanked her for her hospitality.

It was a brief encounter but not as brief as the night he saw his father studying the photograph of his father.

As he walked up the path away from the woman’s house, he missed his father and his grandfather. Perhaps in another life. Perhaps.

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This Old House

A ceiling above my head
The floor beneath my feet
Four walls around me
This old house moans and squeaks

Shadows paint the walls
Summers and ice cream days
Autumn leaves and Christmas trees
And all love says and doesn’t say

Thanksgivings come and go
Like suns into the sunset
And Christmas Eves too
Pass me much too quick

Standing in this room of mine
A witness of a former self
A ghost who has memories
Of love that is love and so much else

These my memories run
Through my heart like a river
Laughing, dancing and singing
Carrying me into forever

Uncle Bardie’s Creator Spotlight: Robert Capa, Photojournalist

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Creator Spotlight is the photojournalist Robert Capa:

You may have heard the names Ansel Adams, Margaret Bourke-White, W. Eugene Smith and Henri Cartier-Bresson. All great photographers. Let me call your attention to another, the photojournalist and war photographer, Robert Capa.

There were war photographers before Capa. British photographer Robert Fenton and Hungarian Carol Popp de Szathmar covered the Crimean War in the 1850s. Matthew Brady took over 10,000 images of the American Civil War.

But it is Robert Capa who comes to mind when I think of combat photojournalism. Beginning in the early 1930s, he took a photograph of Leon Trotsky at a rally. It was his first published picture. He was in Spain during the Spanish-Civil War. He was at D-Day. And he was in Israel during its founding. He ended his life, doing his job as he always did. In 1954, he stepped on a landmine.

It was Capa who said, “”If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” He was always close enough because his photographs are not just good enough. They are memorable. He set a standard which war photographers continue to live up to.

Looking through Capa’s photographs, we realize how essential these photojournalists are. They risk their lives to give the rest of us what can only be communicated in pictures. And their images are powerful when they show the truth of war.

So today I honor Robert Capa. And, in so doing, I honor all those journalists who put themselves in harm’s way.

Near 500 Words: Critical analysis

Ellis poured himself a glass of wine and sat down with his wife. She was crocheting.

“I finished it,” Ellis said.

“You did?” There was excitement in Carol’s voice.

“I did,” he affirmed. “A year I’ve been working on it, and it’s finally finished.” He breathed a sigh of achievement.

Carol studied where her hook needed to go. “Why did it take so long?”

“I just couldn’t get those final touches in. Wasn’t sure if I should or if I shouldn’t.”

“So when do I get to see the painting?”

“You can see it now if you’d like.”

“I’d like. But I just have to finish this little piece.” Carol returned her attention to her work. She felt a tug on the yarn. She looked down and saw the cat. “Whiskers. No.”

Whiskers paid her no-nevermind. He’d started his job, He wasn’t going to quit.

Carol threw a ball at the cat. “Chase that.”

The cat ignored her. He was ready to play, and he needed a playmate. He’d chosen Carol.

Carol turned to her husband, joyfully sipping his wine, satisfaction on his face. “Can you do something about that cat?” Carol’s voice was filled with frustration. “If you want me to look at your painting, you’d better.”

Ellis sighed. “Oh, all right. But hurry. I want you to see the painting.”

Ellis reached down and unraveled Whiskers from the yarn. He lifted the cat and carried him into the kitchen. “Want a snack, big fellow?”

“Don’t you feed that cat?” Carol called from the other room. ‘He’s getting fat.”

“Well, what do I do with him?”

“Play with him. He wants some attention.”

Carol was getting frustrated with the cat, with her husband, with the blanket. The blanket was not going well. And it was for her dad’s birthday three days hence. She laid it out on the couch and took a good look at it. “Darn. That’s not the color.” She headed into the bedroom to look through her yarn. There, she found it. Just the right color. Then she was back in the living room, comparing the yarn with the blanket.

Ellis stuck his head through the kitchen door. “You about ready to go see the painting?”

“Okay,” she said, looking up at her husband.

She lifted the blanket up for Ellis to see. “What do you think?”

Ellis studied the blanket with his painter’s eyes. Finally, he gave Carol his verdict. “It looks finished to me.”

“What do you know?” Carol said and folded the blanket and skulked off to the closet with it. Under her breath, she whispered, “It’s never going to be finished in time.”

Off the two went to Ellis’ studio. Ellis turned on the light. In the middle of the room was the canvas. A woman sat, crocheting. A man sat beside her with a glass of wine. In front of them was a table with a flowery table cloth. There was an empty chair in the foreground.

“What do you think?” he asked his wife as she stared at the painting.

“It’s beautiful. What’s it called?”

“Marriage.”

Carol leaned over and kissed her husband. Then she said, “It’s wonderful. I love it.”

Ellis wrapped his arms around his wife and embraced her. Looking over her shoulder, he saw something. Something was missing. On the canvas. He let go of his wife.

“No,” he screamed.

“What’s the matter?” she asked, panic in her voice.

“I should have waited.”

“Waited?’

“Yes.”

“But you’ve done it. It’s your masterpiece. I am so glad you showed me.”

“But it’s not finished.”

micropoem for the day: before you know it

So we’ve unpacked our resolutions. The ones we stored in the attic. We weren’t up to them in 2018. We’re going to be better in 2019 and go after them like gang busters. We’re giving up smoking. We’re going on that diet. We’re giving up sweets. We’re going to eat healthier. Read more books. Watch less TV. Get that degree. Save more money. Break off that bad relationship. Make up with that sister or brother we haven’t talked to in years. Change jobs. Go in for that promotion. Ask for that raise. Get out of the house more. Be a nicer person. Find true love come hell or high water. You name and we’re doing it. So help us, God. But first…

Soon the Auld Lang Syne
countdown and midnight ball drop
champagne and a kiss