photo by Olga Butler Hopper
We are at The Farm in Rexford. I am packing to leave New York State
and attend the University of Arizona, a two-day train-ride away.
In the heat of an August afternoon in 1953, my littlest sister is trying to figure things out.
The striped suitcase in the foreground was my mother's and has her initials O.B. on it;
I will never give it back, My outfit is a "squaw skirt,"
(Note:apparently, one can still get squaw skirts on Etsy!)
three tiers of gathers on a waistband,
and a blouse I made to wear with it of black fabric
and some of the dark-pink-flowered skirt fabric with a black ground.
I am wearing the first prescription sunglasses I ever owned;
my mother knew I would need them in Arizona.
I think we have just been outside for Mom to photograph me in this outfit;
she shot three rolls of film, because, she said, "You will never be the same."
The fire in leaf and grass
so green it seems
each summer the last summer.
The wind blowing, the leaves
shivering in the sun,
each day the last day.
A red salamander
so cold and so
easy to catch, dreamily
moves his delicate feet
and long tail. I hold
my hand open for him to go.
Each minute the last minute.
Denise Levertov (1923-1997)
A Book of Luminous Things, edited by Czeslaw Milosz,
Harcourt, 1996, page 24.
This is a wonderful anthology; I cannot recommend it too highly!