Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Rest in Peace, Dr. Leah Schaefer

in the Huffington Post
from ncfr
from The Kinsey Institute Newsletter

And at the Huffington Post's link above, you can Listen to Dr. Leah Schaefer sing “Heather on the Hill."

Mr. Hal Schaefer’s first marriage was to Leah... and he later was linked romantically to Marilyn Monroe. Small world.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

a very old letter, a newer poem: an encore

The letter below was written, in about 1929, by my grandmother to my mother:


"What do you want I should get you..."
"What is the matter papa did not call up..."
"... tell him he should eat red meat, go outdoors for his health, go for a ride every night that he will sleep well."

And this is a poem written in about 1992, by me:


At dusk, a dream through stained glass:
In a hazy deciduous forest, I am almost naked-
Pristine gown clinging like translucent second skin,
Chartreuse satin slippers, cheeks pale porcelain rose,
And humidity turning my hair burnt sienna.
The scent of dried lavender drifts through trees-
“Alone in nature, by nature,” ventriloquists murmur.
Bejeweled spiders, resting on carefully crocheted cobwebs,
Melancholy widows, eyes green tourmaline,
A soldier seduced by indifference...
Haunted beauty washed forever in soft pink light.

A fading fragrant French cologne-
Earlier a sweet intoxicating elixir- melting and melted.
An elusive black-throated warbler,
Pausing on a great oak, bears witness:
An icon is shedding mellifluous silver tears,
Reflecting my grandfather, wrapped in his tallit
Stirring, turning, saying, “You look very familiar to me.”

A clammy breeze passes through Manhattan.
I awaken this time, awakened last time,
Acquiescent and still, not knowing
If it is evening... or morning.

© 2004 Marjorie Levine, in "Naked Amnesiac"

three love letters, an encore

I found two old long forgotten photos while rummaging through an old shoebox. I also found three letters from a summer of long ago:

August 3rd,
Dear J:
I want to tell you what happened on a hazy hot sunless Sunday, in July, at Long Beach. A few feet from where an amnesiac sat on the boardwalk eating hotdogs-- a lady, a blue blood, and a wanderer observed in the sand a mystical image. Well, because they were frightened that the startling sight might rapidly disappear or be scrambled by an insouciant breeze, an attempt was made by the lady to photograph the sight-- to freeze and thereby validate the remarkable event. The lady put down her translucent parasol and a love letter that was written in Sanskrit on an ancient faded doily. And as a tow headed child paddled to shore in a teacup, a picture was taken and developed. It passed from the lady, to the blue blood, and then to the wanderer-- from whose tired, careless fingers it slipped. The wind carried the picture down and up, up and down; it danced the tango for a few seconds before it collapsed in my open right hand. I swear J, in that photograph I saw the transmigration of a soul!
Kindest regards, L

August 12th,
Dear L:
I love you and want to marry you! Why didn't you tell me you were spending July out at Long Beach? I desperately wanted you to know that I enrolled in a film workshop and I will complete the requirements and be eligible for a certificate in film. By the way, the theme of my first project is the lost years of Jesus. I wish you were with me supporting my cinematic aspirations and visions. Last Tuesday, while I dined at an outdoor sidewalk cafe on Columbus Avenue, a lady passed holding a translucent parasol. She was walking her Shih Tzu and when she paused, in front of my table, she allowed her thirsty pet to take a few swigs from a bottle of seltzer. I took a picture of the lady and her dog, and I am sending it to you.
Love, J

August 28th,
Dear J:
Your letter was forwarded to me from the Long Beach address. I am now staying in Westhampton. While I was having dinner at a restaurant in East Hampton, I was introduced by a blue blood to a group of young Buddhists. In the early mornings, I joined them at a mansion for the recitation of five prayers. I want to tell you what happened at the beach on a hot sunny Sunday in mid August. A dilettante, a pacifist, and a codependent led me to a spiritual man, who for a short time in July posed as an amnesiac at Long Beach. He now conducts a series of past life regression sessions and I was persuaded to participate. As I reclined on the Westhampton sand, a lonely seagull flew overhead and a tow headed child paddled, in a teacup, to shore. In time, I recalled a past life! I realize now, Jason, that we were together as lovers during the French Revolution. So, I will be returning to Manhattan at the end of August, and we shall plan our wedding.
Love, xxxooo, L


One hot sunny Sunday, in July, at Long Beach:
An amnesiac sat on the boardwalk watching
A strolling lady who was carrying a pearl-handled parasol.
A handsome soldier passed holding a love letter that was
Written on a faded lace white doily and a lonely spinster
Stared at vague images in the sand...
Lines soon to be scattered by an insouciant breeze.

An innocent, guileless, sienna-haired child
Paddled to shore in a teacup.

This is what happened on a hazy sunless Sunday,
In mid-August, at Westhampton.
A spiritual man, who once posed as an amnesiac,
Conducted past life regression sessions
In an old chartreuse theater and
A tattooed director, with wild cinematic aspirations,
Filmed the event in shades of mysterious gray.

Later, I rested on sands
And watched one lost kittiwake fly
In circles overhead while an organ played
Music from an invisible carousel.

I listened to the ocean and
Imagined mermaids swimming painlessly
In peaceful and seductive warm waters.

A sienna-haired child
Stepped out of a floating teacup,
And walked with sea legs
Along colorless sands.

Sometimes before twilight,
I think of those two days.

© 2004 Marjorie Levine in "Naked Amnesiac"
registered WGAE December 10, 2004
as part of material titled "Naked Amnesiac"