Review: Bella Collector of Cuentos

Bella is about to go on the trip of a lifetime. No, it does not involve planes, trains, or automobiles, but it may involve a horse, an odd little cart, and a weird bird, among other surprises.

Oh, and a bit of magic.

While going through old things in the attic of the family home, Bella finds – and oh, my! – falls into another time and place, where she learns that perhaps she can be more than the quiet little sister and the shy student, easy prey for a school bully.

In this magical place she meets ancestors, beings of legend and lore, Death, and most important, she meets herself and learns her potential. And she learns perhaps the most important lesson of all: to be remembered is a blessing; to be olvidado, forgotten, is to let one’s culture and language slip away.

She meets fore bearers she never knew, or scarcely knew in their lifetimes. At nearly 15, coming into the family late in her parents’ marriage, she sees no connection to her past. Nor does she see the threads that bind her family together, feeling too often the outsider.

The legendary characters she meets on her journey teach her the importance of retaining a connection to the cuentos, the stories, that are the backdrop of her culture, the art, music, and literature that frame who she is.

In the land of yesterday she encounters beings – human and fantastical – who by turns protect her, teach her, and caution her to remember their cuentos and share them with a careless society that has forgotten their value.

Dwarves and giants, witches and snakes, tricksters and Death herself leave a lasting mark on Bella. Reading the story of her journey is charming, yes, but it is also a cautionary tale about remembering and sharing one’s culture and language, not as an afterthought, but as a vibrant part of life.

Bella Collector of Cuentos is a tale told by those who do not want to be forgotten. It is also a magical tale about a girl coming into her own.

TIME

Time,
we believe
we have so much
when in truth
time spools out
like thread
on a spindle
weaving together
with other threads
creating a tapestry.
Your thread,
my thread,
can break
at any time.
I pray to consider carefully
the choices I make,
the actions I take
so the thread
from my spool
adds goodness to
the tapestry of life
before it breaks.


Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com


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THE TREE

Someone with knowledge
could save this wreck of a tree,
planted back when water
seemed limitless
and rain fell
with some regularity.
This old Russian Olive
remains stubbornly productive,
giving off leaves and shoots and
and anemic branches.
Still, it is beautiful
in the way resilient
things are.
Defiant, the tree
makes its imprint on Father sky,
an ‘I’m not done yet’ statement,
that encourages me
to say the same.

Covid Cascade, an essay

It is clear there is more to covid than scientists realized with its evolving variants. Now we have something called Monkeypox, which somehow indicates it comes from contact with monkeys. And it does, sort of. To be better informed about Monkeypox, check out this article from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Photo by Lorenzo Martinez the night we were evacuated.

I am not going to embark on a discourse about viruses and their dangers/impact on society. What I want to ramble on about is uncertainties we all face and how we are changed for better or worse by circumstances beyond our control.

In the recent fires in our area, we were evacuated for eight days from our home. Not because the house and property were in danger, but because the air quality was so dense, we could scarcely breath. And we didn’t know our house would be unharmed, especially when we looked to the hills behind the house and saw great plumes of grey smoke and flames leaping in blended slashes of orange and red and yellow heat.

We’re weeks past the declaration of containment and we should feel at ease, but we don’t. We know many people displaced by loss who are further devastated by flooding that takes destruction to a new level.

And it’s not these destructive fires and floods that weigh on us. It’s the unsettling mountains of shifting dialog about where to go for help and whether or how much help will be available. In the middle and immediately following the fires, the outpouring of love and support were beautifully staggering. Food. Hot meals. A place to stay. Clothing. Resources galore. As time has marched on, the tragedy of many has been left behind. The kindness remains but it is woefully disconnected from the specific needs of those most impacted by the devastation.

The thing is, we have all been hit with multiple tragedies: covid, the deaths of loved ones, illness, a senseless and devastating war in Ukraine, people at our borders struggling and suffering, Monkeypox for crying out loud, violence at every turn, mass shootings, an insensitive and cruel political environment, global warming/climate change… I could go on, and so could you. In a recent sermon, Pastor Katie Palmer likened it to Russian stacking dolls. See a summary here. We are individually at the core of layers and layers of influences over which we have no control, but they affect us in unimaginable ways. No wonder we’re edgy.

The other side of that are the acts of generosity and neighbor helping neighbor, strangers stepping up to help, a community taking in those in need, powerful acts of kindness unselfishly given.

One thing we can agree on: thanks to firefighters and first responders the response to the Hermit’s Peak-Calf Canyon fire was phenomenal and kept a horrific situation from being worse. The community took them in as well.

Personal loss is just that – personal. Typically, most of us have a support network to see us through dark times. Where do we go when so much in the world seems to be so wrong?

It may sound simplistic, but live as best you can. Help in the ways you can. Go to the polls come election time and vote.

THE QUILT

Life is a quilt,
one created over time,
one square, one stitch
placed just so
over weeks,
months, decades.
Sometimes the stitches
knot up, tangled
in unexpected
life events:
death of a love one,
divorce,
too much of this
too little of that.
And then
it smooths out
when new bonds
are made,
babies are born,
life goes on.
The quilt spreads,
covering the span of life,
bringing comfort
and protection.
The quilt of life,
the connectedness
that bridges divides.


Check the BOOKS tab to find out more about my work. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.comhttps://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooksAmazon Author Central. I’m also a member of the Las Vegas Literary Salon, a group committed to sharing the work of local writers. Follow LVLS at lvnmlitsalon.org. Thanks for reading, commenting on, and sharing this post.

YEAR AROUND

Snow Day

The winds and snow of Winter
invite us to cozy down,
take comfort from those around us
in our home and in our town.

Spring’s gay bright blossoms
give us cause to laugh and sing,
as we watch for early robins
and hear the messages they bring.

Summer opens wide its
sunny arms enticing us to play,
kick the ball and swim the lake,
and make the most of every day.

Autumn whispers a sleepy song
of falling leaves and wind all around.
It’s time to rest, they say,
let peace and gentleness abound.


Check the BOOKS tab to find out more about my work. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central. I’m also a member of the Las Vegas Literary Salon, a group committed to sharing the work of local writers. Follow LVLS at lvnmlitsalon.org. Thanks for reading, commenting on, and sharing this post.

WALKING IN OCTOBER

Walking in October

There, clouds riding high
in a brilliant blue, blue sky.
Further along black birds cluster,
feathers flap with wicked bluster.
A shedding tree bares its limbs,
dropping leaves like floating gems.

A pumpkin here, scarecrow there,
a ghostly presence to give a scare!
The air is fresh with a little bite,
wood smoke smells of fireplace alight.
Oh, the joy of an October walk,
listening to Mother Nature squawk and talk.

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This is Day 175 of my 365 day self-imposed poetry challenge, which will culminate at the end of April (poetry month) 2022. The photo is one I took today, which inspired, in part, Walking in October.
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I am an indie author of six books and two chap books of poetry. Check the BOOKS tab to find out more. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central. I’m also a member of the Las Vegas Literary Salon, a group committed to sharing the work of local writers. Follow LVLS at lvnmlitsalon.org. Thanks for reading and sharing this post.