Open Sesame (or, Ruminations on Nathalie Gribinski’s painting “Ali Baba’s Cavern”) by Norma DaCrema In Ali Baba’s Cave at Enchanted Forest when I was eight, we rode in boats, lurching in the dark, jostling strangers, sniffing hungrily at the mystery, like the moral of that old story no one could ever find. Maybe it was mostly mildew we smelled on the slimy bottom of our boat, rounding the turns through a shadowy sequence of turbaned mannequins, props and placards, a dumbed-down tale unfolding in the darkness. We rode it over and over, though absent was dismembered Cassim immortalized in my illustrated Ali Baba Golden Book, his bloody stumps weeping on the cavern floor, the brutal cost of blanking on the charm of the sesame–how the ripened pod will burst apart, shattering, scattering its seeds. And absent was Morgiana, blithe bearer of the boiling oil poured into narrow necked earthenware jugs, where forty thieves, improbably flexible, marinate in the courtyard. But what has any of that to do with Gribinski’s “Cavern”? Her colors and shapes and patterns in profusion, like a deconstructed nursery chest of toys, all richness and possibility, through an open door–our first glimpse of the treasure, sparkling in the sunlight streaming in, more than enough pieces for a thousand happy endings.
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Norma DaCrema is a teacher at a Pennsylvania girls’ high school. A May 2022 graduate of Arcadia University’s MFA program in Creative Writing, she has published or has work forthcoming in The Lyric, The Night Heron Barks, Ovunque Siamo, Common Ground Review, and Red Fern Review, among others. She lives with her son and a small slew of cats.