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By: Marilyn Tullys

Bon Voyage

Steve said "Mom's Adventure,"
His cheerful tone, upturned lips
Disguised concern.
His farewell hug imprinted love.
Swept into a black hole,
   I transcended Atlantic
In the belly of a nightbird
   and was discarded
Like weary prey in London.

Sleep pulled me under,
Blanking out
Calendar-picture countryside,
Sweeping past coach windows
All I wanted was
Warm shower and soft mattress.
Exhaustion summoned placid days.

Then, pushed by need,
Drawn by curiosity,
I found friends, miraculous receptions.
Steve was,
   my distant voice confirmed,
Exactly right.
Now I could put down roots
   in peaceful lanes.
Here freedom, revitalization.
Sweet haven Cambridge,
Unexpected sweet haven.

Illumination At Work

On the cobbles of Kirkgate,
I remembered the legend of Uncle Jim -
His boot heel caught on such a street,
Wartime Germany.
Castle Museum once
Debtors' Prison
Has misery layered
Onto bricks and into that cell
Where condemned Turpin languished.

Unearthed Viking yesterdays rolled
   at Jorvik, reclaimed.
Then in tour bus up and down
   narrow, irregular course
Caged by Medieval walls,
Absorbed in spectacle,
I pondered days hundreds of years
Before my pilgrimage:
Life in 71 AD when this spot was founded,
Grew as northern capital,
Where yet reverberates Roman legions.

Touring until full sun dimmed with
Lighting a candle at York Minster,
Prayers for family
back in America,
   Back, I imagined, where
My tiny candlelight would be
Transmitted in the morning star.

A Sojourner Stepping

Places I never knew existed
   on earth
Or in my mind's heart
   present themselves.
Discovery reshapes,
I am learning to be home
   while far apart.
In original ways
   I seek and stretch,
     wander and wonder.
Heretofore unfathomed levels
     whisper Welcome
To a sojourner stepping


"Away," eager heart implores toward
Gentle time for long walks, new views.
Extended pause,
Restful hours away from
Ordinary routines
Or extraordinary cares.
Time to refocus,
Redirect energies.
Dipping up clear spring waters,
Both hands cupped;
Breathing other worldly air
In a space where
There really exists
A magical threshold.

Words From Stratford-Upon-Avon

A right person born in a place
Is enough to create scenic wonder;
Enough to lure guests from
Almost anywhere and mostly everywhere.
(I am one of this year's half million.)
Enough to move books, banners, T-shirts,
Cards, plastic busts, trinkets
To dresser drawers, scrapbooks,
  mantles, cupboards,
Living room shelves worldwide.

After stalwart blessing for
Royal Shakespeare Company's
Romeo and Juliet, I flowed with
Currents of sightseers
Gazing at timber frames.
And, yes, posted a Shakespeare card
To peers at Kent State's English Department,
Bidding it be carried, of course,
O, ten times faster than Venus' pigeons fly.

Old Market Wonderment

Who has been here before?
Who came away with beef or potatoes,
Carried to flame beneath
Fourteenth century kettle?
Toted fish, carrots, apples,
Exchanged for pence?
Here in the heart of old Cambridge
I browse at overflowing
  outdoor market stalls,
Study shoppers,
Listen to children's chatter,
Appreciate buskars in Lion Yard
Strumming, singing for coins.
I drift back, far back in time,
But not so far back I cannot have a treat
  ice cream cone to cool my walk.

Pausing On Fen Causeway

There on Coe Fen
  before the left-turn roundabout
Where lavender-blue wisteria
  climbs an old brick wall,
I pause at a gray bridge,
  Listen to the swish of
   Fen Causeway's traffic.
Cattle graze upon
Buttercups and Queen Anne's Lace
  that sway in sunglow patches.

One cow bends
  at River Cam shoreline,
Slurps muddy water,
  and catches cloth floating
She chews:
  this brown cow with dripping
   dingy-white bra
    (now how, brown cow?)
     hanging from her mouth.

Finally she gives up
  and her catch is dropped
   to float on,
   on and on     to wherever tossed bras go.
Carried by current, it moves along
   holding its story in its cups.

Walker's Advantage

I walk The Backs,
Green swathe of ground.
Pressing in images
Like child's hand in clay.
Passing ancient colleges,
Queens, Kings, Trinity, St. John's.
Stroll Cambridge land,
At languid River Cam where
Punters glide
For tranquil hours,
I walk.
Feet tramping well-trodden earth,
Eyes seeking, feasting, absorbing.
Glad to be not driving, not cycling.
Each step connects me,
Bringing scenes in
I become one with
All I appreciate.
Pausing when I wish and where,
Holding onto experience of senses,
Deliberately intaking.
I walk,
Making Cambridge part of me.


With baffled curiosity I gaze
At ashen giants,
Evidence that in other lifetimes
People struggled and designed…
      Whispers rush
      All around, all around,
      Breathing low,
      Murmuring truths
      From long ago.

Wondering I stand, I stare,
Inwardly reaching, combing my thoughts,
Unable to grasp answers
That tease, tossle my hair.
Massive stones somehow brought…
      Whispers rush
      All around, all around,
      Breathing low,
      Murmuring truths
      From long ago.

Circled by prehistoric engineers
Remain at attention
Guarding wide centuries,
Shielding origins.
Bold and steel-gray riddles
Against vast heavens,
Purpose shrouded in mystery;
Unyielding to thinkers or gawkers,
Unattainable to seekers who
Cannot braid the gusts of wind.

October Blowing Melancholy

Gone is hazy-glow, yellow daylight
  at the bay window
Replaced with stark illumination,
  prewinter steel gray.
Hardened leaves, earthtone,
  crackle on waving limbs
    in frenzied windgusts
Like rattle of paper
  shopping bags roughly crumpled,
    packed into rubbish.
Good-bye fair summer.

Crawling out from cozy goose down,
I yawn and reach quickly for scratchy
  gray cardigan
    slung around      oak ladderback desk chair.

In chilly air,
  bones remain, even with wool's draping,
    unwarmed as October's
      show of dimming life.
Gazing out the window of my
  chilly, quiet room at Cambridge
    across stacked books and papers,
Brisk dawn
  transports me for a moment
To that tall oak tree
  On the front lawn
    half a globe away.

Christmas Morning In Scotland

Through Highland Hotel's
third floor window
a picture of hushed landscape
hangs frozen
in glimmering stillness,
a fresh cover for this place
which well knows
the ancient litany of humankind's inhumanity.

Taking in the Christmas scene,
I wonder if Scottish tears
in nature's water cycle
have evaporated and drifted
again and again
as gently woven strands
to checker and stripe
boughs and limbs
of conifers:
Maclean hunting tartan,
white, black and grass color
stretching where clansmen
walked and loved and fought
in this mountain heartland
along with bear, bison, wolves,
beavers, wild ox and elk.

From remote memory
comes replay of some
bagpipe tune,
almost…a few notes,
as I look out to where pristine woodland
meets stark white glow
of melancholy sky.

Sacred gift, this view,
as I am open
to accept
my souvenir.

Uniting Line

At 0º longitude, I straddled
That Greenwich line
My geography teacher
Said divided hemispheres.
Remembered London bombed,
Children airlifted to live out
Here in Greenwich
My new millennium hope was born:
Let the dividing line
Speak of unity.
I envisioned a royal path
Surrounding a garden,
Stones from all the earth creating
Unity Walkway,
Quiet oval of beauty.
I stood, felt, dreamed.


Easter holidaying
in Bournemouth
brings sea breezes
to rearrange my hair,
kiss my face.
Graded hues
greet me
in famous flower beds.
This southern resort
was waiting…
waiting for me
to be charmed,
waiting for me to come
and pause
and rest.


Moseying toward Owlstone
Across clear, dark Grantchester
Footsteps barely break night's hush.
Short days away from jetting home,
Senses heightened to capture
Nuances, position impressions for
Memory's treasure chest.
I pass the post office drop box
Where packets, letters, important missives
Have been faithfully deposited.
    Goodbye, Royal Post, and thanks.

Pass the spot where that
Fish and chips truck
Parks to sell tasty meals
Each Thursday evening,
Filling air with scrumptious invitation.
    So long. Appreciated those
    Tasty paper-wrapped meals.

Amble along where Alice's tiny legs
Peddled first her trike
Then pink two-wheeler.
    God speed, my darling.

Above on spread of black,
A single pearl gleams.
The fingers of my heart reach up.
This, too, I'll keep.
This, too, I'll clutch
As long as memory lasts.
    As long as memory lasts.

Farewell My Love

Jetting toward Washington D.C.
To be picked up by Cousin Evelyn:
Watch movie, eat, read, sleep,
Visit, eat, write, rest, visit.
My seat partner, a Brit
Doing international business,
Asks my feelings about England.
    Oh, I love it.

    Sad about leaving Cambridge?
I say I gave
Most of my wardrobe to charity shops,
Stuffed my suitcases with
Cambridge sweatshirt, Cambridge T-shirts,
Cambridge mug, Cambridge pins,
Cambridge calendar, Cambridge stationery,
Cambridge teddy bear.

    Hm-m-m, he murmurs.
    Isn't that a bit like
    Ending an affair and
    Papering your walls with
    Old love letters?

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