Sunday, December 26, 2021

A Christmas Gift and Seasons Greetings


A Christmas Gift

By Mary R. Davidsaver


I wake in the hours before dawn

Three days shy of Christmas.

This day holds plans for a car trip,

A mission to deliver a gift. 

A gentle soul made a request

That’s going to be answered

With a present from his past: toys.

Building blocks brought down from a shelf

Beginning a new life,

Or continuing an old one

That was waylaid for many years.

My being here is its own gift.

To have lived long enough to see

How this story completes a loop—

Beginning, middle, ending—

With the same toys.



Seasons Greetings

By Mary R. Davidsaver


Christmas cards lay on the table.

Fewer this year.

They arrived unbidden.

My half-hearted quest for cards

Found nothing satisfying.

I came away empty handed.

So many voids in my mailing list:

Dear friends, parents, cousins, aunts, uncles.

Last year a brother suddenly gone.

I expected no notice of my lapse.

Wrong again.  


One name drew my attention

It didn’t register. Who’s this Helen?

Inside, a view from a high vantage point

Overlooking a scenic river

Dressed in seasonal greens and golds.

Only one answer to the question.

Only one couple climbed river bluffs

For pictures, poetry, and purpose:

To honor the Driftless magic

Of the river in our own backyard,

Too often overlooked and bypassed in haste.

I found my copy of BLUFFING by Dick Stahl,

Eminent emissary of the Mississippi River.

I read it again with fresh eyes

And discovered its spirit anew.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Review: Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions by Mario Giordano


This read for Bettendorf Public Library's Mystery Book Club presented me with two obstacles right from the beginning. Chapter one starts with an italicized summary of what to expect within the first eighteen pages. It’s pertinent information, but was it necessary? I’ve only run across this technique once before and was not impressed with it at the time. And what is it called? Certainly not an epigram, where a pithy saying or a snippet of poetry can entice a certain mood. I looked up definitions of foreshadowing and that came closer, I think, to how the author used the plot device to build anticipation. It must have worked on me because I didn’t quit reading.


My second obstacle, the nephew’s role as narrator. It was annoying at times to have Poldi’s dialog, her seemingly smooth narration of important events, interrupted by the junior novelist whining over his unstructured story and incomplete life. I felt it as an intrusion and not helpful for the present story. It was more of an aid for delivering historical background on Poldi and the family.


I did not take the time to look up all the food and beverages mentioned. That’s my loss. However, I can appreciate how the author portrayed and developed the local character of the place and the people.


I was not able to guess the villain, too many worthy suspects. And just when the ending felt like it was being overly drawn out, it was saved in a most unexpected way. At least for this tourist who hasn’t been to Sicily, yet.


It was a good choice for the Mystery Book Club. I might look for the next installment of Auntie Poldi.