Corona Chronicles: August 4, 2020

Until life returns to some semblance of normal, from time to time we will send out the Corona Chronicles. This publication will provide commentary, brief stories, poetry, book and movie suggestions, and ways to make our time at home meaningful and fulfilling. If you have ideas to submit, please contact Nancy Perkins at nanella133@gmail.com.


Synchronicity
Brenda Smith

The orange subway train clattered down the tracks into the station. As the doors slid open, a handful of people quickly exited. I strode into the half empty car and plopped down in one of the unoccupied bench seats just beyond the doorway. I kept my head lowered so not to engage in sight or sound with any of the other commuters already onboard. I did not want to invade their space, nor have them invade mine. Keep the distance. That’s the rule.

The train lurched forward heading for the next stop a couple of minutes away. I settled in and checked my cellphone for new messages. At the far end of the car a falling backpack thudded on the floor disrupting the silence. I shot a quick glance in that direction. I didn’t see any out of place backpacks, but my eyes caught the bright blue eyes of a young man staring intensely, directly at me. Startled by this unexpected connection, in the same instant we looked away from each other.

Since it was early afternoon, I speculated he might be a graduate student. He was comfortably attired in tan khakis and a navy blue polo shirt. His hair was a wavy light brown, not too long and a bit tousled. I tried to recall other features of his face, but the brilliance of those blues eyes dominated my memory.

I truly did not want to chance looking his way again only to discover I was being watched by a stranger. But the urge overpowered my logic. A moment passed before I gathered the courage to dare another peek. I turned my gaze in his direction. At exactly the same instant he glanced back toward me. How strange. As our eyes locked, this time I did not move, nor did he. I stared into those eyes, looking for an opening into his private thoughts. Those few seconds felt like an eternity and became uncomfortable as neither of us showed an inkling of emotion.

On exactly the same heartbeat we turned away from each other again severing the connection. I sat for a minute wondering what force of the universe was at work on this subway car. The inevitability of this magnetic bond was a mystery. Was he as mesmerized with my blue eyes as I was with his? Could he decipher my thoughts in a way that I could not know his? The sudden braking of the train broke my reverie. Curiosity drove me to make one more check. Our heads turned in unison toward each other. With a faint sense of familiarity our eyes met.

What kind of bond was this? This impossible, impeccable timing that we two strangers shared? Not even the masterful skills of a professional mime could match the synchronicity of we two, in this moment. As the car stopped, the man rose and headed away from me toward the door. I watched his departure. In the last second as his body passed through the door he turned, met my following eyes and I saw the tiniest trace of a grin form on his face.

Brenda Smith fulfilled a life-long dream when she moved to Belfast in 2019. An accounting graduate of Bentley University, she worked as a CPA and Vice President of Finance for several non-profit organizations. She earned her MS from Suffolk University in Philanthropy and Media. and has produced, directed and edited many award winning videos. She is most proud of the coveted “Telly” award on her desk. Now retired, she is busy with several writing projects: an early memoir recounting some of her hair-raising global adventures, a later memoir about living with the extremely rare Stiff Person’s syndrome, and writing short essays about things in life that make her smile. She is a board member and treasurer of Belfast Senior College.


Lost Summer
Kristin Frangoulis

We left the heat of Alabama – Breath stealing steam.
98 degrees – 100 percent humidity,
June day after June day – temperature still rising.
We left magnolia strangling scent,
Parched roots of live oaks,
And sprawling red bricked suburbs.

We ran to the balm of Maine – to cool breeze,
To blue sky and sea.
June day after June day – temperature constant.
We find the balsam’s spice,
Morning’s cleansing fogs,
And steep roofed, wooden houses spilling to the shore.

We found a summer sweet as blueberry jam,
You and I stand young and straight,
Our two children, small – smile innocent with hope.
Cell phones not known – only the pay phone on the drugstore corner.
Computers not portable – No TV blaring noxious news.
Silence stops only when the gulls scream, as they squabble over a crust of bread.

We vanished unplugged into an acoustic dream

Kristin Frangoulis writes and paints in Belfast. She lives with her husband, George and several cats. She also hosts WBFY radio show, “Poetry By The Bay,” and co-hosts the TV show, “Good Morning Belfast” with her husband.


Photo by Dan Avener

Home to Belfast
Kristin Frangoulis

As young lovers they ran away to Belfast.
His beard was black, her hair was yellow.
They lived upstairs in a tall gray house with a tower.
She left a broken heart – He a broken promise.
They pretended to be adults.
She taught English and danced with words.
He edited stories, arranged words on pages, and printed them on paper.

Belfast then was a Grand Old Dame on lean times with twisted stockings,
Feathers and iridescent chicken guts afloat in Her bay.
Yet, with an air of elegance, of memories of past glory.
Of Greek revival houses on the hill with widow walks.
Of masts and sails out on the sea.
He of the black beard and she of the yellow hair believed in Her magic.

They moved to the country, Freedom, and raised tomatoes,
Married in an old white church with lilac bouquets,
Had two babies, then moved to Dixie.
After thirty years, still lovers,
They came home again to the town on the bay.
His beard is gray – Her hair is white.
All has changed, but remains the same.
The Grand Old Dame –
Her head held high again,
Her pride aglow in Renaissance.

Kristin Frangoulis writes and paints in Belfast. She lives with her husband, George and several cats. She also hosts WBFY radio show, “Poetry By The Bay,” and co-hosts the TV show, “Good Morning Belfast” with her husband.


Photo by Audrey M. Deveney
Photo by Audrey M. Deveney
Photo by Audrey M. Deveney

Book Review

In this memoir Rebecca Solnit describes finding her voice.

“I am a woman who one morning wrote an essay called ‘Men Explain Things To Me’ that is about the way that the mild disparagement of having your subject of expertise explained to you by a fool who does not know that he does not know what he’s talking about or who he’s talking to is on the spectrum, and that the other end of the spectrum is full of violent death.”

Reading Rebecca Solnit’s memoir Recollections of My Non-Existence: A Memoir is to read about non-existence as the condition of all women. As a woman coming of age in San Francisco of the 70s and 80’s, she used writing “as a counterweight to that attempt to reduce a young woman to nothing.“ Reading this memoir is like taking an Alpine shower because it clarifies so many aspects of our lives: the experiences of being disbelieved; of being the object of unwanted attentions; of obstacles to finding our voices. But even this requires arduous effort. “My speech,” she says “was not stopped. It never started, or it had been stopped so far back I don’t remember how it happened. It never occurred to me to speak… because it didn’t occur to me that I had the authority to assert myself or that they had any obligation or inclination to respect my decisions…”

Learning to practice non-existence as a young woman avoiding the attentions of older men throughout adolescence, she begins looking for ways to exist as little as possible, becoming “expert at fading and slipping and sneaking away, backing off, squirming out of tight situations…at gradually disengaging, or suddenly absenting myself.”

Solnit writes very powerfully of the psychological effects of living in a world where the experience of silencing and erasing women is a fact of daily existence. But writing at her desk in the safe space of a beautiful rented San Francisco apartment after graduation is the beginnings of slow, healing self-assertion, measured over the course of the book. However, she does not in this book think politically; to ask, for instance, how women’s non-existence functions under capitalism through the erasure of women’s labor. Elsewhere, she writes on political action campaigns seeking to address the climate crisis and nuclear disarmament. Nevertheless, this is a book all children of women will find riveting and worthwhile.

Deirdre Good lives in Northport and teaches online for the Stevenson School of Ministry in the Diocese of Central PA. She was professor of New Testament for 28 years and academic dean for two at The General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church in NYC. Her books include Courage Beyond Fear: Re-Formation in Theological Education, co-edited with Katie Day (Wipf & Stock 2019); Studying the New Testament, with Bruce Chilton (Fortress Press, 2010); Jesus’ Family Values (Church Publishing, 2006); Mariam, the Magdalen, and the Mother (Indiana U Press, 2005); Jesus the Meek King (Trinity Press, 1999).