Time Off

I’ve got some time off now.  Well, not exactly.  Is there ever really any time off when you are a writer?  While I am between the spring and summer semesters at the college, I have all good intentions–really I do.  Here are some of my priorities: organize the garage and one of the bedrooms, work on the garden, read a book which is written in Spanish (can I still do it?), become a wine connoisseur (I bought a book!), and read the stack of novels I have waiting for me on the bookshelf.  Oh yes, one more thing–WRITE, WRITE, WRITE! (Okay, three things).  These tasks, I admit, are not always the easiest things to accomplish, especially on sunny days when virgin beaches of an early summer await.  Well, so far, I did get some clean-up and garden work done, and I have tackled some of those books.  Writing is a bit more daunting, though, especially with revision taking up so much time.  However, I am almost done with my first book of short stories entitled Three for a Dollar. I hope to tell you more about it in the weeks to come.  I want to share with you a poem which I recently wrote.  I think you will see why reading the works of great poets like Mary Oliver is so inspiring for those of us who aspire to a writing life.




I thought I had forgotten

until I saw the movement of words

tenderly opening their treasures

but never hidden really

not if you look around.


And even the shadows casting dark lines

on the silent grass are beautiful .

The cloth of blue that is the sky

holding up the whispers of clouds.

The trill of bluebirds calling its young to spring.

Simply breathing I am enveloped

by the patient bouquet that is life

The mother’s palm of sunlight against my cheek.


Each time language is a birth

which exhales the earth

A holiness which even now makes the heart tremble.

It is all still there–

I thought I had forgotten .

But then I remembered.

I remembered joy.

–Shirley Russak Wachtel (5/17/12)

Till next time, I urge you all to attend “The Gathering” of second and third generations at Mercer County College on June 10….http://nj.gov/education/holocaust/programs/061012shoah.pdf.


About shirleywachtel

Shirley Russak Wachtel is the author of The Story of Blima—A Holocaust Survivor (publ.2005), a novel which recounts the early years of her mother, Betty Weisstuch Russak. The novel s listed as a recommended novel by the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education. Wachtel is the author of several children's books, including a series of interactive mysteries, Charlie Wonder, Chef-Detective (2005), which includes several recipes; Brad Sureshot, Coach-Detective (2007) which details basketball skills; and Howie Rocket, World-Traveler-Detective (2009) which has handy foreign language phrases. In The Mellow Light (2009) is her first book of poetry. She is a professor of English at Middlesex County College in New Jersey. In addition, Wachtel is the co-author of Spotlight on Reading (2011), a textbook for college-level students. A mother of three sons, she resides with her husband, Arthur, in East Brunswick, New Jersey. Initially written as a doctoral dissertation for her Doctor of Letters Degree from Drew University, My Mother's Shoes , says Wachtel, is not just the novel of her life, it is the novel of her heart.
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