Aug. 4, ‘21
This is a very rich true story and no more length will be added to the blog for a little while.
I took the bus late afternoon today to have my eyebrows threaded and on the way I noticed the open door of a small performing arts theater I hadn’t remembered seeing there…
So after I was done at the eyebrow place, I walked to the theater and was thinking as I’d quickened my pace just a little, Please keep the door open ☺️, I am almost there…If there’s a play, I won’t sneak in without a ticket of course, but I am curious about this place.
When I got closer to the door and saw the name ‘Orpheum’ I thought of the dear poet May Ziadeh; was this reminding me of her pen-name, Isis Copia? But no, Orpheus, who was Orpheus? And I thought, yes, I’ll go in… and see if anyone is there or what it looks like inside. And it did remind me of a place May would’ve maybe liked to go.
I put on a mask as some places might prefer them to be on in recent days and I didn’t see anyone at all when I stepped into the lobby. ‘Oh, there’s a lady there’ I thought at a glance, ‘but why’s she way back there?’ No, I saw, it’s actually me in the mirror reflection☺️. But the selfie happened to capture a more scary feel than the fun with my very far off image: I deleted it just not to scare anyone. 😊
I left right away; you never know with no one around and no one seemed to be in there. I was outside a few moments when a woman around my age could’ve been a little older came outside to meet me as I’d asked about the theater and happened to see it as I’d passed by.
She said they have shows there with local art exhibits; plays and art shows. (I didn’t mention me painting again just yet). And May’s mention of her fondness for Shakespeare in her poetry book had me wanting to try him again—Maybe Shakespeare’s poems, yes. And I did really like his play A Mid-Summer’s Night’s Dream.
As I’ve written on my blog before, I may notice something very old for the first time that’s really been here all along and longer than I have. And I’ve lived in the nearby town for ten years.
So she took my email address to notify me of events. I was still just slightly moved past giggling to myself as I’d wandered in. And when I asked how long they’ve been holding plays here, she’d said sounding a little amused herself, ‘Oh, since 1926.’
And I felt a warmth of familiarity, with the first poet presented on the first post on the blog today, New England-born, Edna St. Vincent Millay also living during that time somewhat near the region of my town in Massachusetts and the Lebanese-Palestinian poet May Ziadeh whose story with my own experience started the past month of May, and then the also-Lebanese born poet Gibran who lived in Boston at a time also around this 1926 time period. This early 1900s, 1920s time I’ve found myself at home in, too even during my 2021 lifetime.
I left the Orpheum Theatre and thought, ‘oh Orpheus!’ That Greek mythology figure is who I am thinking of, but who was he? I searched the term ‘Orpheus’ in May Ziadeh’s Flowers of a Dream (1911), my own English translations when I’m brought to the part she’d written of a dream she’d had that the Greek god, Orpheus rocked her in her sleep and dropped her! I was so warmed remembering how months ago when I’d started reading her poetry, I’d felt May rock me very gently in my sleep (even before I’d read that in her book) like she’d found the idea amusing too and that I was very precious and she’d not let me drop. 😊
I decided to explore the Common today just a few steps away with benches, grass areas and stone plaques that I never really get to see anyone look at or read.
There was one that had a certain engraved image I’d felt drawn to look at and the only other person I saw there was a police officer who was storming around far off from where I was walking around when I’d left. I may wander a little with little care for the clock if I have time and I may not be so lost then either. I might be a fairy wandering in, you see and a loving fairy, too. 🧚♂️And so I took a photo of that plaque after I’d arrived at it:
I was not aware of this particular event although it sounded familiar ‘til I’d researched it online on the way back home and learned it was referenced here at a time during the Lebanese Civil Wars.
Since August 2020, after the explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, a news event I’d heard about ‘though I don’t check the news regularly myself, I’d seen a friend of mine, Erica’s cousin, the author Alexis Johnson had just published a novel she’d been working on and was sending all the money for a period of time to aid in Lebanon after this explosion happened.
I liked that I’d been a friend of her cousin’s a long while, that Alexis was an independent author like me, and that she was sending the book’s profit to a charitable cause. I’d liked money going to a good cause and that’s when it began that I’d keep finding myself in Lebanon without getting my own ticket or being in the physical place.
Before I’d learned of Alexis’ novel, a quote about love by Gibran had come to mind very true and valuable to me during some deep self-reflection, but I was hesitant then to look him up for unknown reasons and recognized the quote in the pages of Alexis’ novel, The Drum Symbol as I saw it actually was by Gibran. Something like these words I’d found in my mind and heart often, ‘Be like two separate strings ringing with the sound of the same music.’
And I was back into reading poetry too, from revisiting Rumi, Hafiz, and Gibran. I’d seeked a female poet from this part of the world and found pretty easily May Ziadeh, who happened to be a Lebanese-Palestinian poet and also lived in Cairo, Egypt.
I’d found out about the poet, Hedy Habra when I’d thought May’s books were all unavailable to me. Suddenly I found May’s book online in French and loved it as I’d translated it with online tools. I’d received an extra copy of Hedy’s book at the time, a book I’d loved and bought with just reading two sample poems that stood out to me with graceful depth and compassion and read nothing of her biography yet but that she was Arab-American and felt she’d give a nice perspective of today to complement the medieval Rumi when I’d read Hedy’s bio afterwards and learned she was of my time.
When the first copy was missing, I was given the idea to ask permission to give away the extra one on this blog and discovered Hedy had lived some time in Lebanon and was from Egypt and that the poems in her book Tea in Heliopolis were connected to both places.
I had felt such a deep, enthrallingly beautiful connection with May’s poems and May herself as I’d read her book a long while and was stunned to read similar phrases and ideas and beliefs I’d written myself or would write too. I’d read of her affectionate heart and appreciation for some people she’d written of in Flowers of a Dream. And she’d write of rose and blush and other words in ways that got me thinking of morning more often, spiritual faith and Jesus in a new way, and my name for this blog. I’d read of the pink roses she’d loved in Lebanon, and I’d found right away about her nearly 20 year letter-writing correspondence with poet and artist Kahlil Gibran.
I’d had a cold, unexplainable ache towards Gibran myself, although I’d enjoyed the poems he’d written, that intensified for me. A few times I was awake at night upset by it and what helped me was allowing myself to consider it all, for as long as I’d needed, even though it seemed absurd, considering both May and Gibran died years before I was born.
And yet a lot of the pain was that I’d try to ignore was worry that I’d written of my feelings even if it helped me—would it upset anyone reading or who’ve loved Gibran? And yet it was the root of it that would help me, feeling pain about a perceived hypocritical feeling about Gibran the person that I had no basis for. It didn’t ‘make sense’ but what helped was realizing it was worth acknowledging.
The great consolation came during this time too that people in heaven aren’t hurt by aversions of people on earth towards them. And exploring both biographies, I’d learned that Gibran had felt the same hypocrisy about himself and the pain of it had overwhelmed him, but heaven leaves behind the pains of earth and earthly identity in an illuminating hindsight view.
The feelings I felt were drawn from compassion towards May and the feeling he’d not been so clear and maybe she’d experienced her own grief and the letters between the two where biographers mention there was clear love and yet no proposal.
Today I’d come across a line from a biography about May whether factually accurate that explained my own mysterious ache to me that passed: that on a photograph of Gibran she’d had among her papers, May had written, ‘This has been my unhappiness for years.’
And over time, learning more about Gibran too when I felt I could brought a light humor as I’d made a joke about my recent poor seamstress work when I thought to hem my own shorts and learned just after that Gibran’s dearly loved sister and mother were great seamstresses, and he’d called his home in NYC with candles in that studio apartment, the ‘Hermitage.’
It was also today online I’d found that drawing of May in yesterday’s post, ‘Blush and Plenty of It’ actually was by Gibran, who I’d felt then had drawn it.
So, these feelings of mine had reality, were not condemnations, I never expected anyone to understand my feelings, and neither of these poets care about the earthly concerns of their lives now and are so happy in heaven, they know and are touched by the love that is still on earth. A happy person can always be made happier.
Two poetry readings I’d attended recently through the author and artist, Hedy Habra had mentioned Lebanon unexpectedly, as the second one, the host from the first one, Roula-Maria Dib from Indelible Magazine was holding this art and poetry reading during her travels and was in Lebanon, unannounced ‘til then. I’d looked into the trees and sky curiously in the backdrop.
And my friend, Alexis Johnson whose novel set in Lebanon and Ireland, The Drum Symbol had a fundraising project for Lebanon, had brought me there in her book last year, had posted today just as I got home that it’s been exactly a year since the explosions in Lebanon. I hadn’t realized the date.
Dan had called me on his way home from work as our times intersected then and he could drive me back home, so just fifteen minutes away, I thought, ‘Why not close this adventure today with a surprise poetry book?’ I could read one next, after For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway.
There was little time and I enjoyed the constraints of picking a quick book off the shelf and going. At the time, Dan called that he was five minutes away and I’d answered as I’d just arrived at the shelf, saying ‘I’ll be outside’ to which a startled lady screamed as she probably hadn’t seen me or heard my quiet footsteps, still in a complete whisper, ‘Be quiet why don’t you! Jesus Christ!’ (No not right), but I quieted my voice to a whisper just then and grabbed the first poet of today’s time I recognized then, Margaret Atwood. I knew nothing of the book, but I will let you know; I saw ‘morning’ in the title and thought of my own blog Blush of Dawn.
So that is my unexpected adventure today that’s reached into a very living history and continues on. I think I’ll be nicely quiet for the night and look at the sky and water my flowers and plants for the evening and check on my hand-picked snowball flowers in a small glass of water by the open window. But I see the plants don’t need to be watered tonight because it has just begun raining.
Earlier: ‘…What Should I Be?’