Kathryn de Leon is from Los Angeles, California but has been living in England for ten years. She is a teacher and lived in Japan for six years teaching English to Japanese university students. She has been writing poetry for more years than she cares to remember. Her poems have appeared in several magazines in the US including Calliope, Aaduna, and Black Fox, and in the UK, The Blue Nib, The Cabinet of Heed, morphrog 21, Hypnopomp, Poetry Wivenhoe Poems, Snakeskin, Visual Verse, and The High Window where she was the Featured American Poet.
I FELL IN LOVE WITH CHARLIE CHAPLIN Summer 1968
when I was eleven years old. I worshipped his dark curls, his deep racooned eyes, his pale face. A man with no voice, no colour, only black and white hints of who he was. He spoke with smiles, laughed piano music. A childlike messiah, his turned out feet lifted him like clumsy wings as he ran and played, falling soundlessly in a soft world of no pain or blood, his cane the ancient staff of a baggy-trousered wise man. The Summer of Charlie, I thumbed through the Sears catalogue, biblical in my small hands. There I found the meaning of life: a film projector and reels and reels of Charlie, the moustached angel fluttering in holy silence on my wall whenever I wanted him. I promised myself I would save my money, buy the projector and reels, countless umbilical cords securing me to Charlie and his safe, carefree world while my own world was still safe and carefree, still free of grey, still simple as black and white.
A HEAVEN OF WINDOWS
(Dreams of my death)
Sometimes it comes for me as huge waters, sometimes in a daytime sky that has lost the sun, sometimes the earth shakes and crumbles and I with it. Death drapes its colossal sadness blackly over me, like a regal cloak I have earned but do not want. A lifetime of breathing is stopped, my final breath taken, no pain only sorrow for the ending of my life and the unkind darkness pouring in to replace all the years. Then a surprise of light, not the waiting light of God or angels at the end of a tunnel but a heaven of windows full of morning sun and blue sky and relief I still have more time, time for light, and colour and life.
BACKYARD Playing with my sister and cousins, early 1960s
The world was so new it was still wet to the touch. It smelled fresh, like birth. The dew of our creation dampened the backyard grass and trees where we played., innocent mornings, each one a summer painting in progress, the colours still undecided. Always sunny and cloudless mornings, so early the trees’ full branches cradled a low sun, shadows deep but harmless at our feet. We summer flew on squeaky swings, giggling pendulums marking the quick rhythm of children, jumping from blue skies onto the safe green of July lawns, our skin soft, our bodies small. Our lives had just taken root. This was childhood, the starting line of ourselves which without knowing, without being told, we had just crossed.