Guest Posting: Extinction or Distinction by Etta Lerman

May 12th, 2021

NOTE: Etta is in my creative writing class and her essay seems very appropriate follow up for Earth Day and COVID issues. Thanx, Etta!

I have read and reread Maya Angelou’s poem “On The Pulse of Morning” that she read at Bill Clinton’s first inaugural in 1993. In that poem she speaks of a Rock, a River and a Tree, metaphors for our existence here on earth. I have found it truly inspirational and I would like to transpose those elements to ruminate on what we have learned in this past year of a sequestered life due to the pandemic.

Let me start with the Tree, stalwart, long lived, perhaps as long as 200 years or even more. The roots grow deep within the soil spreading out in all directions, unseen and exceedingly strong. It stands tall, proud and majestic but beyond its beauty it has a purpose. It serves to keep our forests temperate, shelters other living creatures, and helps to purify the air we breathe.

The River tends to wend its way uniting one community to another. It provides water for our sustenance, can be recreational and is a spawning place for a variety of precious species of life. Even as we contemplate its beauty, rippling and sparkling in the sun, does it not remind us of the many tears that have been shed, the many friends and relatives who will never again be able to experience this simple pleasure?

Now we come to the Rock, sedentary and almost indestructible. And that’s where we humans come into the picture. For a solid year we have been living sheltered beneath a rock. We are just beginning to crawl out from under. We are learning to congregate with other human beings. We have been self-absorbed, but have had time to contemplate. For the lack of so many creature comforts, we have a new appreciation of what life is about. Will we ever shake another hand, kiss a baby, attend a concert, a play or a movie without remembering what it was like when we were deprived of these commonplace things? Will we still feel the weight of the rock on our back because we are privileged enough to have survived? I think you will agree, it  has been a hard lesson to learn, but all the more precious.



A Poem for Mother’s Day with Azalea Photos

May 8th, 2021

On the 40th anniversary of my Mother’s death some time ago, I wrote a poem that I never posted and plan to read at my Creative Writing Class next Wednesday, so I am posting it here on my website, as well. I am also interspersing my condo and neighborhood photos of azaleas because they are here for such a short time and too beautiful not to share. (One has late-blooming tulips. Also beautiful and short-lived.) Finally, I post my carnations, because they are the official flower for Mother’s Day. (See my P.S.)

Diamond Nanny Bea

Bea Knopf was our own Sophie Tucker, combined with Mae West;

A proud woman with lots of smarts—the best of the best.

She & Daddy had an interesting life—

He earned the money & she spent it, like a “good” wife!


For Nanny could not budget; money was like water

And she passed along that legacy to her oldest daughter.

Bea could count up quickly the columns of items she spent,

But she couldn’t exactly account for where it all went.

She dressed each daughter with clothes that were quite expensive,

But her own bargain basement wardrobe was not very extensive.

She loved having her hair washed & set in an up-swept style,

Her eyebrows plucked & red nails done, dozing all the while.

Ah, our Nanny loved us all to total distraction—

She kept herself busy; we were her main attraction.

She (& Daddy) taught the value of honesty, fairness, and truth

and put money under the pillow when we lost a tooth.

So long ago on East Brown Street and Avenue Thropp

The memories linger still, and they will never stop.

I was in Israel when she died with Daddy at her side

And when I came home, I cried & cried & cried.

Forty years is a long time ago, but wait!

We all know that Love has no expiration date.

So rest in peace, our wonderful Diamond Bea;

We’ll light the Yarzheit candle that means, “Remember me!”


P.S. Carnations are the main flower for Mother’s Day. They are actually my favorite flower and I have deep red  ones in my kitchen right now! Here’s a bit about them from the ‘Net.


White carnations are the most popular. According to Anna Jarvis, white carnations symbolize the virtues of motherhood, purity, faithfulness, love, charity and beauty. … Pink carnations carry the meaning of a mother’s love, light red carnations express admiration and dark red symbolizes great love and affection.May 9, 2018