Sunday, March 16, 2014

More

More


Of a need that searches
How to fill the void.
Of the old that nurtures
Both wish and solace.
Of the new that writes
Both real and promise.
Of a presence that teaches
How to miss the real losses

Janete Copyright 2007

Wish

Wish


That feeds a heart
At loss of a stronger beat

That humbles a life
Grander than its planted seed

That unveils the passion
Behind all blinding truth


Janete Cabral Copyright 2007

Friday, March 09, 2012

Wedding Day


 Dedicated to Louise Cabral Jackson

On this nineteenth day in November
Early tide washes ashore, as seagulls
Fly past the large bay windows
Of the grand old Midland Hotel.

I watch you sleep, a still beauty
In silk lingerie, peaceful in the quiet hours
As the morning light bathes us whole;
There will be a wedding today.

There is a touch of frost in the balcony
But we dare to venture out in nervous laughter
Looking across Morecambe Bay
To the first of the snows on the hills.

The hours pass and the hairdresser
Sculpts your hair, as we sip Champagne
And speak of black and red dresses,
Ring bearers and long stemmed white roses.

I sit at the edge of the bed
As you kneel beside me gently
Applying the lipstick and foundation
Like a lover and a painter, studying my face.

I pause and close my eyes, overwhelmed,
Taking in each delicate intimate brush
In this play of touch and colours
You my love are the beautiful bride.

A couple of knocks on the door
And friends start to gather with gifts
And sparkling wine flows tempering the nerves
As three o’clock is fast approaching.

The winter sun is high in the sky now
A quick spray of perfume and we are ready.
Walking down the spiral stairs, hand in hand,
Under the expectant gaze of family and friends.

I am caught in a daydream
As the wedding singers play Halo
And we follow the cue to walk in
In this white room filled with so much love and light.

Please wear this ring as a token of my love
And affection, now and always.
I promise to love and care for you
For the rest of our lives together.


 Janete Cabral-Jackson Copyright 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

New York in November

Dedicated to Louise Cabral Jackson


A beautiful lady enters the lobby
Of the Waldorf Astoria. And it is you.
You stop to look at the grand chandelier
And the black and white prints of a golden era.

Sparkling pearls and beaming smiles
Frame the walls, stolen moments captured in time
Such as flawless Gershwin tunes
Serenading old lady Manhattan.

You carry yourself gracefully,
Hand in hand with me, your adoring wife
As champagne on ice awaits us,
Early days in our charmed life.

Mahogany lifts and fur coats
The forty-first floor overlooks
Tall skyscrapers and neon lights
As the full moon rises above the Hudson.

We lovers smile and our reflections dance
In long corridors with mirrors
Past bellboys and tipping waiters;
Caught in our perfect dreamland.

We are enticed by New York
Guess handbags and Tiffany’s
And the company of its gentle giants,
And the shores of Ellis Island.

You pause again to take it all in
The constant hum of yellow cabs
The season’s bells and Broadway shows,
Pretzel vendors and Times Square.

It’s Macy’s Parade and Thanksgiving Dinner,
We walk past the animated crowds,
From the sinuous streets of Chinatown
To the grandeur of Park and Madison Avenues.

We stand on Terrace Bridge
Amongst the fallen leaves in Central Park.
As runners and carriages and tired horses go past
And the city breathes, air filled with promises.

The city has known many fates
Of highs and lows, much given and much taken
Of lovers and warriors, of hopes and broken dreams.
And yet she still stands proud, unshakable.

You befit the city my love
As you are kind as you are beautiful
Pale blue eyes which smile with so much love
Nurturing and wanting, forever in mine captivated.

 Janete Cabral Jackson

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho


As the sentence printed on the cover reads, Paulo Coelho's "The Alchemist" is a fable about following your dream. It is the story of an Andalusian shepherd who decides to follow his dreams after a chance encounter with a Gypsy and a King and the subsequent trail of omens which lead him to his Treasure. They take him from his Spanish home to the markets of Tangiers and across the desert to the Great Pyramids of Egypt.

In his travels he meets those who inspire him to move on and those who have forgotten to listen to their heart. It is a cautionary tale of the dangers of following prey to fear. However this is not a story of bitterness and sorrows but an inspiring and uplifting fable of a man daring to understand his heart. It is in the simplicity and the mystical lyricism of the story that Paulo Coelho's work translates into a modern classic. The theme is universal and knows no boundaries across language, culture or faith. As such it is no wonder that it is has captured so many people's hearts and imagination across the globe.

"So, I love you because the entire universe conspired to help me find you."

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Paris in March

Dedicated to Louise Margaret Jackson


The bells toll in the high sun
As gentle waters of the Seine
Bathe the old cathedral of Notre Dame.
The large Rose window invites us in,
Amongst candlelight and incense;
And whispers of old, wandering souls.

The cold stonewalls are lined by statues
Of Saints, Green Men and ivy.
Promises and prayers, as pilgrims to and fro,
In traditions of new and old,
In this eternal play of light and shadow.

Then a sudden turn
And the purple light blinds us.
There is so much love in the detail,
It just takes our breath away.
And in that moment, I want to hold your hand.

We walk the spiral stairs
To the dizzy heights in the crisp air,
Overlooking the ancient city,
Guarded by giant gargoyles and lost chimeras.
There is a serene calmness, which guides us
As there is not much need for words,
Such is the comfort in knowing
It will stand against the test of times,
Always elegant and strong, above the skyline.

And so in the lazy afternoon
We find ourselves in its shade
In the dusty courtyard, amongst lovers
And passers by, dreaming of a different life
And what it would be like; and you my love,
The keeper of Notre Dame.


These are languid times
And we do not want to leave.
So we follow the bridge to a nearby café,
Sitting by the window as the white wine is poured,
And the palate meets the light taste of soft bread and fromage.

Night is falling with such ease,
There are brandy glasses and red velvet chairs,
Verdi’s Opera and Champagne coupes
And the opening night of Luisa Miller.

Such is the lyrical chant of voices past
As I sit, in rapture, by your side.
Stealing a look, unseen, as I watch you
Beautiful and poised in the Paris night.

Street lamps and headlights
Colour the city in this March night.
It still feels cold, and yet I am lost in your gaze
As it meets me halfway, smiling.
The piercing eyes, I am learning to navigate.

Like everything in this city
You seem to know the way.
Leading through the maps and long corridors
Of the Metro and my adoring heart.
I am vulnerable and whole,
And yet caught in your embrace.
And though I have sailed past many ports
In yours I will stay, my anchor, my city of lights.


Janete Cabral Copyright 2003-2011

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The Anatomist

The clock had struck ten and the study room in the faculty was dimly lit, fallen silent from all the hustle and bustle of the day. A sudden tap on the shoulder had wakened Steven. He looked up in a daze, still confused, wiping the drooling from the opened textbook page.
“Hello? Anyone there?” He said gathering his notes. Something or someone must have woken him up. But no one answered. He had been left amongst the voluminous medical textbooks and the dimmed lamps. He went past the corridor and stairs to reach for the main door but it was locked. He was stuck, how could the porter have missed him?
He sighed and then thought to try the fire exit. He had seen it by the Anatomy Demonstration room so he retraced his steps down the corridor. At the end, he pushed the door opened, greeted by the clinical coldness of the dissection room and the overpowering smell of formaldehyde. There was always something fascinating and mystical about this room and it looked even creepier at night. As medical students they gathered in groups of four per body every Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. Steven always stood in awe of the retired surgeons and teachers who skillfully navigated the surface of the human body. He still remembered being told not to be afraid and to touch the dead body. A few in the class went a colour resembling pale green at the time. He had a few nerves at the start too but it is remarkable how quickly one adjusts to something as surreal as dissecting a body and accepts it as normal.
Steven was actually quite fond of the body he had been given to practice, an old lady who had died of old age and blocked arteries. Even the body, which lay next to their group, had a pleasant rose aroma and a coin was found in his right antecubital fossa just last week. They did put it back as it had obviously been there for a reason and clearly wanted to take it with him to his final resting place.
However there was something about the deceased man across the room. Steven just could not bare the putrid smell as soon as he approached when summoned by the lecturer. Perhaps it had been cancer or even the mark of a lost soul? Nonsense, he thought, he didn’t even believe in that kind of stuff. He needed to find an exit before he lost his mind too.
He went through a narrow entrance and tried a door to his right, which easily opened. He flicked the light switch on and his eyes immediately caught the two large steel freezer compartments standing side by side and a faded three quarter length white coat. He suddenly felt this urge to try it on and could not explain it. He had seen plenty of white coats; he had a medical student one himself. Perhaps because it wasn’t his? Curiosity and impulse got the better of him so he tried it on.

“It’s a perfect fit.” A firm man’s voice said.
Steven jumped on his feet; a man was stood right behind him just a few inches away.
“I suppose you have come for the body?” The stranger said, his breath bitter and stale, his grin old and broad. He was no more than five foot, his hairline receding into a patch and his eyes dark and impenetrable.
A bewildered Steven tried to speak but no sounds came out.
“Well, which parts were you looking for?”
“What?”
“Well, you are a student doctor, aren’t you? Which part have you come for?” the man asked
“Oh, of course, sorry. For a moment there…” Steven said, still trying to work out who the man was.
“Well I don’t have all night, come on” He proceeded towards one of the freezers and opened it for Steven.
“We have got upper and lower limbs over here. Now here, are the more delicate specimens such as the brachial plexus and the branches of the inferior aorta.”
“Wow, they are incredible, almost textbook like. How come we don’t see these in class? “ Steven said moving closer to examine them
“No son, not almost, they were precisely cut and measured. I am constructing the missing parts before it is ready to be shared. Want to see where we get them from?”
“Constructing, I am confused? But sure!”
“In a moment, yes…. I see you are wearing my white coat.” The man said pondering.
“Oh so sorry, just could not help it. Here, please, let me give it back to you” Steven said.
“It suits you, as I said earlier a perfect fit. Plenty of memories, you know, it seems to bring me good luck. It seems to bring me exactly what I need when I ask for it”
“Oh? It does?” Steven said in a dubious tone.
“Yes, you see. I am the Anatomist.” He presented Steven his right hand and shook it.
“Steven Trousseau. Pleased to meet you. How come I have not seen you before?”
“Ah, the department keeps me working at night, no distractions from the likes of you. But in your case I shall make an exception. You see you have the most perfectly structured hands. Dare I say, hands of a surgeon?”
“Well, thank you. Not sure what to say to that. I hope I can do them justice one day.” Steven replied.

“Well my boy rest assured they will take pride of place. Follow me and I will show you how it’s done”
As Steven followed him into an adjacent room, the temperature dropped abruptly. A tray of finely set sharp blades and different sized saws set neatly on a silver trolley. The Anatomist closed the door behind and click was heard. He stared at Steven for a few seconds, which made him uncomfortable.
“So where are the bodies?” Steven asked.
“We are a bit short at the moment. You see random bodies won’t just do. Oh no, if you want perfection you have to find it first. This is my life’s work after all. But I am sure you will do just fine.”
Steven stood frozen, confused, thoughts racing through his head. Everything inside him told him to run and when he tried to reach for the door, it was locked. Again he was stuck, but in a far more dangerous position with a man holding a knife and wearing a horrific grin.
“Not so fast son, I have been waiting for you for a long time, now. The door locks on itself, didn’t you hear the click?”
“Why?” Steven barely managed to utter the words as the Anatomist had already crossed the room and blood was pouring from the right side of his chest.
“Easy now, don’t fight it. Your right lung is punctured, the air will run out soon. Shush don’t struggle. You see, you will be remembered for eternity. I will make sure you are my finest work. I promise.”

The End

Janete Cabral Copyright 2003-2011

Friday, January 21, 2011

"My Reading Life" by Pat Conroy

A little gem has come out recently into our bookstores, Pat Conroy’s “My Reading Life”. For those who are not so familiar with the author you may have read or seen “The Prince of Tides” or “The Lords of Discipline”. The truth is that Pat Conroy’s masterful skill for storytelling has been delighting some of us for many years. So it comes has no surprise that the writer is an avid reader himself and has chosen to share his love of books and the English language with the wider public. As I opened the first few pages of “My Reading Life” it felt very much like sitting down with an old friend and indulging into some secrets of his soul.

Themes such as his Catholic childhood, his relationship with his parents and being brought up on the ever-changing military bases, pervade throughout the entire book. We have much to thank Peg Conroy for instilling her son’s love affair with books. Indeed much of his past is mirrored in Pat Conroy’s writing and there are clear reflections of this in his choices of books as well as in the friendships he forms throughout his reading and writing life.

How easy did I find to follow the steps of Conroy into the “Old New York Bookshop” and revel in what it might have been like to have lived during those literary soirees, or how I wished I could have been part of the influential Gene Norris’ s English class in 1961. It seems only too few of us are lucky enough to have had an educator which can both inspire you and challenge you.

He describes the greats such as Dickens and Tolstoy and other master novelists but his passion shines through when he writes about his emotional connections to the likes of Thomas Wolfe and James Dickey. Writers who have utterly consumed his soul with their art to the point it has changed both the teenage Conroy and the more mature one.

Another chapter, which I found particularly enlightening and honest, was “On being a military brat”. He describes his father’s history of domestic violence, the mask with which the family had to grin and bear and the ultimate pride on being raised “ a military brat” and serving the army.

Upon reading this book I could not help myself taking notes, particularly on writers I had dismissed in the past or simply not heard of. His passion for reading translates in each sentence. And what else could an author ask for, but to have others hold them in such great respect as to trust them to guide their way.

I salute you, Mr. Pat Conroy.


Janete Cabral

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Cafe Marina

I love attention to detail, especially when strangers turn to kindness when you least expect it. There have been many such occasions, but I will just mention the last one as it is still fresh on my mind. I work part time in a Health centre, doing mostly late shifts, which means half the time I miss lunch and head over to start work; hurriedly trying to grab a quick soup and toast if I can. I mention it in the context of the small fishing town where I am working. You see, for many of the local businesses this has been a very hard winter and they wear it on their faces. Tramway works have disrupted the main road and affected trade, may it be the newsagent, the multiple fish and chip shops and cafes. A few people have lost their incomes and jobs and there is little that the local council can do to help them, apart from some meagre pounds. It broke my heart yesterday, when I saw a patient who did not have enough money for a prescription for painkillers as she was not breaking even with her business...You can only do your best to suggest over the counter medications and how to help them via prepayments cards, etc...

But as the title suggests, I am meant to be writing about Cafe Marina, this little cafe across from the Health Centre, where I am greeted every time with a smile and a hot pot of Redbush tea as soon as I walk in the door. You see lately I promised myself I would try to be a healthier me, leave home early and sit down for a proper lunch before the start of a hectic day. It is a quaint little corner cafe which has obviously aged with time but still stands with grace. There are only a few handful of tables and chairs and individual menus advertising mushroom pie. The walls are filled with signed photos of actors from the 1950s mostly, all autographed to "Derek". Comedy actors, British actors and a few Hollywood stars. There are even two little gems of number one takes from the productions of " The King and I" by Walter Lang and " Gentlemen prefer blondes". And just as you start to feel you are lost in a different era, the radio starts playing "Every time we say goodbye" by Ella Fitzgerald. I could not help a smile and when the old couple sat next to me started humming the tune to the next song "It's...Strangers in Paradise" as soon as the first few bars started. They looked content as they definitely got it right. The young teenage girl sat across from me looked a bit uncomfortable and growing restless, as if she had been dropped from an alien spaceship which made the whole encounter incongruous and that more delightful! She did not order I noticed as she appeared to be waiting for her father. But even after he did arrive and sat down to eat, still she did not order.

I, on the other hand, was day dreaming during this whole scenario, wondering who Derek was and what he might have been like chasing all those precious signed photos from all over the world. I must ask the new owner, but I am still building the courage to do it. Perhaps I just don't want to spoil the fantasy I have created in my mind... There is a lot of that going on.

Before I digress again, kindness is the word, as they always welcome me with a smile and the brewing tea and head in my direction to take the order. I know I am a paying customer and always leave a tip and this might not seem like much. However I love the familiarity of the place and the way that they just leave me be without asking too many questions and yet there is this quiet air of acceptance. The new owner has not had a day off in a few years, he is a tall, calm gentleman and very quietly spoken. I suppose you would have to be in the current financial climate to be able to cope. The lady serving has visibly gone through a lot of problems recently as I can not help listening to the local chatter; after all I am now one of the "regulars"... Her sister works in the kitchen and does a lovely scampi. I have ordered it a lot, and actually have to stop myself for fear of sounding too boring with my choices! I usually get a smile and a little laugh when I reply " I think I will go for the scampi today".

So there it is, small gestures and acts of kindness and attention to detail which lends themselves to appreciation and contentment.

UPDATE:

I asked the owner and it turns out that two men used to run the cafe and were involved in the catering of theatre and film productions before it was sold 7 years ago. Apparently there are walls full of autographed pictures upstairs which the new owner hopes to share it with the public once they have done renovations.