Waiting for Tragedy

(For the people of Ukraine)

Today, we stare at the architecture of war,
how core and studs crumble and quake
after an explosion. It seems we have lost,

the ways we look at our humanity,
forgotten how to connect with wildflowers
if we don’t own them. I peek, as I can,

from my screen into the blown-out
buildings to try to uncover something deeper
about this attack, to understand

the appeal of killing another human,
of taking of their cups and saucers,
their quilts, their children, their shoes,

their photos. We can chalk it all up
to power, but it seems like we’re making it
okay again to lose lives, to invade

a country, a people, to steal a place.
The humanness that spills
from the mounting bloody rubble

of war is stuck between tanks and guns.
The couches, baby toys, wooden tables
where families sat to share a meal,

a daily routine, toasts, and memories
left behind to the bombing of humanity,
the grotesque secret of us revealed.

The unsacred sacrilege of murder
that war calls for, sketch of bravado
or terror until collapse;

the tallest bombed buildings of homes
speak first with their height,
then with a stumble in the wind.

-Liza Wolff-Francis

Light

Selfie 1.28.2022

That Brilliant Blue Sky, image copyright to Gina Marselle

New Mexico Sunset, image copyright to Gina Marselle

The Last Ride, image copyright to Gina Marselle

My mom and I on our horses during a visit home from college.

My son and our dog, Strider, from 2016, image copyright to Gina Marselle

A slide in Las Vegas, New Mexico, image copyright to Gina Marselle

When I was in college in the mid 90’s, digital cameras were a novelty, maybe a bigwig newspaper had one. I had a SLR Canon A-1 35 mm Film Camera.
My dad bought it for me at a used camera shop in St. Louis, MO.

I felt like a
professional photographer.

I took a photography class
and became  obsessed.

The dark room
became my haven.
Light became my love.
Shadows and tones my drama.

Without light,
there is no photo.

35 mm film only has 24 or 36 shots per roll, and there is no room for manipulation
nor apps to fix mistakes.

In college, I worked to improve each shot, followed Ansel Adams The Zone System to determine the grey scale in all that I saw.

Fast forward to 2022, and iPhones make everyone a professional—-Instagram allows us to broadcast life with #hashtags and viral reels…

Now about that light—

I love that moment in the day where the light is so perfect. I don’t have to do anything more than aim, click. There’s my shot, a moment in time to share life for all to see.

A marvel.

Timeless.

A necessary light
to overcome despair.

A sunset to offer hope.

A selfie to offer self love,

a photo of a child to offer joy. A portrait of our favorite pet. The image of our love, a parent to remember lessons learned—-

O, to live in a time when photographs offer a distraction from anything.

And light is everything.

Gina Marselle
1.28.2022

Abecedarian for Abrazos

Abrazo is the word for hug in Spanish. Brazos is the word for arms. Carrying arms, calm arms, crazy arms wrapping around you. Daring to love you. Even just for a moment’s greeting. Fleeting and quick, or perhaps, at times, enduring. Grab you out of your own space and world, no, that’s not the type of hug I’m talking about. Hopeful, held, healing, those are the embraces I speak of. In this pandemic, I miss casual abrazos from acquaintances. Jolly. Kindhearted. Lovely, put you at ease, hugs. Make you feel like you know each other, trust each other, at least a little. Not awkward, a simple greeting. Or hugs of friends that might linger, like you’re holding onto something precious. Perhaps love, a caring, an importance. Quiet, unspoken, the work of brazos. Reaching arms, reaching for you, for me, reaching love, reaching. Sacrament, sacred. Trust. Under the sky we have all been hurt beneath, same sun, same moon. Volumes of possibility. Where we all feel closer, safer, stronger. Xerox copies of hugs seem like all I have. Yearn, I yearn for that closeness I never knew I would miss. Zero hugs from friends now, zero from acquaintances, zero is too few and yes, I miss them without having known I would have.

-Liza Wolff-Francis

Dear loved one

who finds my writings after I die,

This is a confession. I want you to see me 

through my words. In life, 

I wanted someone to see me, 

perhaps we all do in some way 

or another. See how tortured I was 

about the future of our planet, 

of our children, about their promised 

adventures to famous rainforests 

and sunsets of gold that might hold them 

in a light that makes this life endurable, 

even incredible. I want you to see 

how I fell in love with art and writing,

with the way artists create 

with pieces of their soul they can’t part with, 

but in the end, let the pieces go, the way 

colors fade in and out of being each hour. 

Tibetan sand artists create the most 

intricate designs in chalk, leave them 

to rain, wind, time. I tried 

to create beauty like that. Nothing 

is permanent, I know, but I worried 

about why our world didn’t change 

for better. In the end, maybe 

it doesn’t matter. I hoped to form 

some truth between flight patterns 

of butterflies and buzzards. I imagined

something different, but in all of it,

I just lived day to day, being human.

-Liza Wolff-Francis