alskuefhaih
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Saturday, April 17, 2010

another kind of tea bag

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. . . "for the roses
Had the look of flowers that are looked at."
T.S.Eliot
4 quartets
p 14

Looking in my fluorescent magnifying mirror,
dabbing dots of concealer on the bags
under my eyes as the magazine for aging women
who want to stay beautiful shows,
I suddenly feel the register in the room's music
deepen and know that my Auntie Sue is sitting behind me
on the worn chair that was Aunt Edith's. O both these women
had eye bags to beat the band.
"Aunt" Edith, my mother's stepmother
with that gene that creates these features on your face
like a nose or a mouth or a chin but that don't
start growing until somewhere after 40 about the time earlobes
also seem to have grown longer,
Aunt Edith whose pedigree and provenance I know nothing of
and never cared to because I didn't like her. But
Auntie Sue, my dad's sister, was different.
The woman had the most glorious eye bosooms
in the history of womankind,
reminding me of the women gathering tea
on the hills by the Black Sea,
their soft burlap tea bag carried in front
like one large breast
growing as they stuffed in more leaves.
I wish I'd had more time with her,
because what she carried in her eye bags was fragrant,
like that black tea, not poisoned like Aunt Edith's Chernobyl tea bags.
Auntie Sue whose humor was her pedigree and when you aimed
a camera her way said she'd break it,
whom all of us adored and never had enough of in her 92 years.
She might as well have lived by the Black Sea she was so far away
in Virginia where tobacco leaves grow but here she is, sitting behind me!
- smiling her wryness as I try to cover what we got from her mother,
and she says: One day you won't be able to cover them Ruthie
but just be sure that what you carry in them is fragrant.


*Note: On April 26, 1986 the worst nuclear accident in history occurred in Chernobyl, Ukraine (then USSR) and the radioactive cloud it released contaminated the tea growing along the Black Sea in Turkey, which was while we lived in Istanbul. There was a tea crisis, and the tea already in stores sold out in a day.

40 comments:

Kamana said...

TS Eliot - one of my favorites.

Chernobyl - eventhough not affected by the disaster, it is one of those days in my childhood that stick clearly to my memory.

Pat said...

I love the journey you took me on in this vignette. It is just beautiful. I love how you started with your eyes, told us about your aunts' eyes and then came full circle to yours. What a great story. Well written. Very moving.

Deborah said...

This is beauuuuuutiful, Ruth. My daughter has inherited some of these from her grandmother but I don't think she's ready to read this yet.

You're such a wonderful writer.

Dakota Bear said...

Beautiful story and wonderful memories. It is amazing what we inherit. I guess that's why they tell men to look at the mother, because that is how their wife is going to look when she matures. Oh well!

Susan said...

You hit one out of the ballpark again, my dear friend. I think when this month is over, a published book is called for, and I am not stating that lightly. I think everyone who enjoys your salon would agree with me wholeheartedly, and in fact, we just might inisist on it.

My tea bags seem to be forming on my upper eyelids. If they start to impede my vision, the dreaded surgeon might be in store. Either that or I'll be investing in a lot of colorful turbans! ;)

*jean* said...

ruth you are amazable!!

Vagabonde said...

Tea bags? Real tea bags and symbolic tea bags? Like some beautiful Italian women of a certain age? I think this is what you are talking about. You are such a poet that I have to be careful and reread your prose carefully. The woman I thought had the most beautiful ones that gave extra character to her face was the Italian actress Anna Magnani. Do you remember her? She died in the 70s.

swallowtail said...

Long ago (hahah, might be 6 mos?) I found your blog. Today I was rambling through my bookmarks, and click, here I am.

I just love your photography, and poetry. Bravo.

And I am not going to lose this one again. That's that.

ds said...

Wise woman, your Auntie Sue. I too knew women who carried black tea beneath their eyes, of a rare and wonderful fragrance...

Susan is right. You should collect these at month's end and make a book of them.

Ruth said...

Hi, Kamana, there is a term for when a person's name or a place name becomes a part of our vocab after a major incident. Imagine if you were from Chernobyl, and all anyone can ever think of is this disaster.

Barry said...

Excellent advice for all the baggage we carry around with us, Ruth!

Ruth said...

Thank you, Pat, for a while there I thought I could keep these bags at bay. Believe it or not I eat a lot of cantaloupe, which is like an inside-out facelift. But I'm starting to accept that these are permanent fixtures. :|

Ruth said...

Thank you, Deborah, it's not easy to resist the constant drill in the media that we're supposed to be physically beautiful. I'm guessing your daughter will be equipped to face whatever realities are there, with your wisdom.

Ruth said...

Dakota Bear, thank you. Oh that I had inherited my mother's face! Her skin was like poured cream, and she spent no time in the sun. Bad for me I got my father's side's teabags. But, I will live with it . . .

Shari Sunday said...

I enjoyed your post. So honest. I feel such a powerful connection with the women in my family. My mother, her sister, Nellie, me and my daughter. I have lost touch with my Aunt Nellie's children even though they live nearby. I especially loved my older cousins who are smart and pretty and have the sharp family wit that I see in my daughter. I wish I had their email addresses at least. My attempts to connect in the past few years met with mixed results and I have become shy and lost phone numbers and addresses. Obviously, as usual, your post made me think. I'm sure you are beautiful, bags and all.

♥ Kathy said...

There are times that become such a part of who we are. This was so lovely Ruth.

Ruth said...

Susie, thank you again for your encouragement, here and at FB. A self published book for the family does sound like something good for documenting at least one person's memories of our family. I will think about it!

I hope your upper teabags don't get to that point of an impediment, my dear.

Ruth said...

Ha, Jean, and you are incrediful.

Ruth said...

Vagabonde, they are real "bags" under my eyes, and my aunts' eyes, but I have labeled them tea bags. Yes, I imagine the difficulties of reading poetry in another language, so I thank you for your sincere effort.

I'm afraid I had never heard of Anna Magnani, but I just found images of her via google. She does have a lot of character in her face, her eyes. Wow.

Ruth said...

Hi there and welcome back, Swallowtail, it's good to see you. Thank you for your very kind words.

Your news about a wedding is great, and I hope you have as much fun as we did last year!

Ruth said...

Thank you, DS. Susie has just about convinced me, here and at Facebook in a back and forth, that it would be nice to have a reminiscence book for family. Maybe I can work on that this summer. Self publishing is so handy!

Ruth said...

I guess we all have it in one form or another, Barry. Thank you!

Ruth said...

Shari, I think family connections are pretty complex. And what shapes us. I've been thinking a lot about that, as our daughter thinks about starting a family in the not too distant future.

Ruth said...

♥ Kathy, what shapes a person? In one family, we each have different memories, distinct and real. Sometimes we aren't even aware of what someone else remembers.

Susan said...

In our family, teabags are less common than raccoon rings. My father, by the time he died, had rings around each eye that looked like a dark version of Saturn.
Each year, I find the concealer makes more and more of a difference....like throwing sunlight on a dark corner.
Perhaps the growing shadows reflect the darkness we've seen...but our eyes stay clear.

freefalling said...

I think eyebags are like belly-buttons.
You can have an innie or an outie.
My bags seemed to have been sucked backwards - soon they will come out the back of my head!

CottageGirl said...

Yes, I agree with Susan! Book! Book! Book!
Wonderful!

Sidney said...

A lovely post...so true!

Babs-beetle said...

Lovely!

Bags are not the thing in our family. At least not under the eye. The chin is a whole different thing though!

Jeanie said...

Chernobyl -- that seems a million years away. No tea -- that would be hard for me to bear. How tragic this would ever happen...

Ruth said...

Susan, I remember the first time I saw Oprah without makeup, and it was a wakeup call. I'm pretty tired of the celebrity-beauty thing that airbrushes people to look great, and we believe that's how they really look. And that we should care so much. I heard on NPR yesterday that plastic surgeries are way up, and even plastic surgeons are concerned about it. Mostly breast implants. What a frickin' goofy world this is.

Ruth said...

Letty, your comment reminds me of the Groucho Marx scene, dancing with a large woman who keeps saying, "Closer . . . closer . . " and Groucho responds, "Closer? I get any closer I'll be behind you!"

Ruth said...

Thank you, CottageGirl, maybe. A nice self published one I could pass around at Christmas . . .

Ruth said...

Thanks, Sidney.

Ruth said...

Babs, my sister is visiting for a quick overnight, and at dinner last night I was staring at her eyes. She's 10 years older than me, almost 64, and she doesn't have any bags. :| In fact she has a splendid face, good square jaw, high cheekbones. Not fair.

Ruth said...

Jeanie, natural disasters are devastating, like the volcanic ash that has crippled Europe and surrounding areas. When manmade stuff goes bad, it seems so much more so.

Ginnie said...

Wow, Ruth. I had no idea you had those thoughts about Aunt Edith! The things we learn from each other the farther away we get from our past. Now Auntie Sue! She was something else altogether.

This was the last time I saw her:
http://ginniehart.blogspot.com/2008/03/auntie-sue.html.

VICKI IN AZ said...

Your words are lovely.

Ruth said...

Boots, well I don't think I told anyone before, my feelings about Aunt Edith.

Ruth said...

Thank you, VICKI.