Publisher: Sleepytown Press
Paperback: 136 pages
Author's Website: http://franorenstein.weebly.com/
Five Gold Reflections from Fran Lewis
Reviewed by Fran Lewis
Look inside the true reflection of a mirror and what do you see? Within the mirror you see your image and the way you look to world right now. But, if you look deeper within that glass what you might find is your history and your life from the time you started school until the last time you put on your makeup and fixed your hair. Life takes us on many different journeys and our physical appearance changes greatly over the years. Journeys take on different meanings to each of us. From the time we can walk, go to school, enter our first classroom we all have vivid memories that we will never forget. As you hear the voice of author Fran Orenstein as she takes us on a journey of our life, her memories, the places she remembers, the changes that occurred to some she wished had remained unchanged we share her joys, triumphs and sorrows in her collection of poems Reflections. Each poem starting from the first tells a story of an event or place that she holds dear.
Children perceive things in their own way and often create worlds filled with wizards, ships, dragons and mystery. Poem one brings the author and the reader back to her childhood and her dreams. Angel wings and fairy dust, unicorns and magic swords are her world and that of many books whose pages you open and read about these amazing worlds. Next, we take a tour of Brooklyn through the eyes of the young author who remembers the Brownstones, playing stoopball, the ice cream man, mothers gossiping and the images of these Brownstones, which often mirrored those that lived in them. Coney Island- Nineteen Forties: I never went there in the 40’s but later on but Coney Island and reading this poem brings back so many great memories that my sister and I had on Sundays. The Steeplechase with the fake horses, screaming riders holding on and praying they’d make it until the end of the ride. Mermaid Avenue was where my grandmother lived, the amazing boardwalk, and of course Nathans. Home for me until recently was my favorite borough the Bronx. The author creates a picture of the Grand Concourse, Yankee Stadium, sneaking into the stadium, the IRT subway and the sounds of the city that bring back so many great memories. Of course two of my favorite Bronx Landmarks: The Bronx Zoo and the Botanical Gardens are still there, so different from when we were younger, but so amazing. The Grand Concourse has changed a lot but the smell of the Kosher Pickles and those amazing and decadent Charlotte Rousses that were my one treat every week brought a super smile to my face as I read, “The Bronx, N.Y. 1947-1952. She continues with Maroon Memories, The Wurtsboro Hill, 1940’s and Greenfield Park, N.Y. 1948-1951.
The Catskill Tea Party that she describes when she is eight is truly priceless. The cups, the leaf plates filled with special plants and the organic natural food that she ate. You can see that her imagination was limitless. Let’s not forget the bullies in our lives or those that scared us just by entering a room or coming in our face. Big John, the handyman was really scary and described as this huge stone statue face that towered over them. The description would make anyone cringe and the end result as to how she overcame her fear you need to read for yourself. Now, of course Frogs hits home. My nephew and I would hunt frogs every summer. We went to the Catskills every July and remained there until after Labor Day. My nephew till this day loves frogs and although as the author brilliantly describes these slimy, ugly, amphibians that often leap on you when you least expect them to, my nephew loved them and had some for pets. Well, that is the ones we caught in the woods and brought back with us. Imagine as the author describes them as cold, wet, disgusting and having boys chase her with those lovely green things in their hands.
Headlights you may think refers to the ones on your car. You would be wrong. Girls that were well endowed and the boys thought worthy of more than just a fleeting glance, but a second look, will love reading this poem. Age 13 most girls laugh, have mood swings and still hug their teddy bears. But, then they start to change and their body’s look different and they start to find that boys are really not awful anymore but dreamy and when our author turns 15 well: He likes her headlights a lot and guess what he’s 16. To find out what Headlights are read the poem on page 35. Next is a poem about High School 1955, Maternal Love, Indifferent Love and Consequences.
Part Two: she titles the Emerging Woman as we leave part one Childhood or Early Years. The author creates a simple but intricate timeline of her life and the important moments she wants to share with the reader. Read Page 45 to understand her definition of Emerging Woman.
There are many poems in part two but I will highlight just a few because they all represent a time in her life but certain ones I feel warrant the spotlight of this reviewer. Poem One: Freedom really creates many pictures within the reader’s mind as the author takes herself and other women on a long walk down a twisted path of the path of life. Each of us, we hope has some positive impact on those we meet. Technology has changed greatly, pods, pads, tablets and phones have entered her world as they did most others. Feeling her age, obsolete at times, after all she started with radio, then television came later and of course she remembers heels, stockings and those infernal girdles that my mother wore. Let’s not forget the gloves, the hairstyles that made you look taller and dressing for work with accessories that made you look the part and of course let’s not forget the different mores that we have now when it comes to marriage and divorce and of course motherhood. This is a great poem that everyone will definitely take something different from it.
“The Path,” is a short poem with many meanings. “ The path of life’s journey is embedded with stones of experience.” Elaborating by stating that each colorful step an adventure and that at every turn we all have some successes and failures. She continues to describe life in many interesting ways as she ends with the path wanders on, infinitely patient. We have the power to choose our own direction and hopefully we will find the right path and follow it reaching our own plateau or mountain. There are so many poems that are in part two that describe the many changes in her life, her feelings, her rise to adulthood and much more. But, “The Corner of Free Will,” really says quite a bit. Choices are made everyday but those choices often mold the direction we take what were we go from the moment we are able to speak until we take our first steps and head in the direction we hope will yield success. Every crossroad she states has a sign clearly marked. “This is the Corner of Free Will you have the choice to stop or go to turn or move ahead or not; decisions made at your own risk.” Very well said and definitely something kids today and adults should think about. Just where this corner takes the author and what you can learn read page 55.
The Mirror of Duality, The Soul Mirror and the Mirror of Truth round out this part of the book. But, the one I want to spotlight is The Mirrors on Her Wall, which I think most will identify with in some way. As you look into the mirror from many different angles you see the many sides of you not only your face but your entire world from many different places, The powerful woman, the bright and funny woman and of course the one that we hope stays within us all the one that is mischievous, fun loving and each one a different role for the author or person looking within the soul of the glass to reveal or hide. The Middle Years Follows and then The Elderly Year are the last two parts of this book.
A Quest is the first poem in The Middle Years. Everyone searches for answers in their lives and hopes they will find their own direction. The author calls herself the Wanderer as she searches the life for answers, reaches out to heal the wound that befall her and understand the meaningless words and gestures of false friends which is difficult. As you go through life many will betray you while others will not. The Quest is never ending. Next, The Faces of Friendship, Endings, I Wonder and my favorite: Recipe for Writer’s Lament which includes the ingredients we all need to create that amazing novel, poem or short story. Just some of the recipe: A cup of ability, a pinch of credibility and a teaspoon of humility and much more. The rest of the recipe and how it all blends when mixed together read page 93. The Elder Years defined on page 108 begins with The Forward March which discusses your decent and her decent into the elder years with the forces of aging taking control the memoirs and the fading dreams.
Seven decades of her life are shared with the reader in so many ways from early childhood until the present. But, in this last part I love Creaky Knees that most people at any age just might identify with as she walks and her knees lock, arthritic, groaning hips, running to the finish line when she was spry, aging joints and crooked backs. You could never make this up if you tried but you can feel each ache and pain described so vividly you want to give her something for relief. But, remember you can complain and carry one but you reached this age and it is truly worth it. Silent World and how it feels when you are alone and no one calls. The rest of the poems focus on her life, motherhood and her family. Going out alone to dinner or playing solitaire or making your own decisions are showcased in the Veil of Loneliness. There are so many poems each telling a story that you must take the journey with the author from start to finish and enter the amazing world of Dr. Fran Orenstein. Life begins at any age and yours dear friend is far from over there are many more stories, novels and poems that you need to pen and keep readers wanting more and teens reading your work.