Way back there in birthing bed
alone again she’d weep.
Year after year, new flesh, new bone,
pushed out like temporal teeth.
Ripped from its sockets by the roots,
life gasped and screamed for air,
then quieted down in perfect peace
to rich maternal fare.
Grandmother soil, warm and fertile,
the perfect garden spot.
She was Eve in efflorescence:
Black-eyed Susans, Blazing Stars,
Snow-drops, Spring Beauties,
Ragweed and Clover.
She was Eden, perennially pregnant.
Wildflowers, we speckle the landscape,
earth’s laughter, we nourish and flavor the land.
Spawned one by one in darkened rooms,
loosed as fledglings from cradling hands:
we explore, we discover,
we dance, we sing,
She sat, reflected.
Locks of silver trembled in fingers reluctant,
The brush stroked indulgently,
One hundred times.
She sat, reflected.
Strands of silver shimmered in attraction,
Crowning highlights bristled in ritual.
Hair, alive and crackling, flew,
She arose, retreated,
Locks of silver tightly braided, pinned down,
Hair, alive and crackling,
On a Texas August day
Back in 1948,
Daddy took me for a ride.
How well I do remember there was no interstate,
Just a dusty county road,
One car wide.
Riding in the front seat,
All the windows down,
I sang along with the radio.
As the wind blew the music and the sweet gum scent around,
Daddy whistled softly,
Sweet and low.
On the banks of Running Creek,
We stopped by the bridge,
Free as the music and the wind.
Bending and swaying, we bowed to the breeze,
And Daddy took me gently
By the hand.
On the banks of Running Creek.
Me and Daddy danced,
In the middle of the dust and heat.
The woods gathered round us, ancient guardian trees,
And rustled with the rhythm
Of our feet.
Alex Haley’s book, Roots, first sparked my interest in the study of family history. It fostered an acute awareness in me of the strength, the pure willpower of each of our fore-bearers, to survive. The legacy we all share, regardless of our biological beginnings, is that we are all descendants of survivors—generation after generation of survivors. That book gave me a better understanding of the miracle that each one—in his or her own place and time—survived at least long enough to produce what would become us! You know, that is an astounding thing when you think about it. Continue reading Roots, Trees, Facts, and Fiction
E. M. Forster, the English novelist, short story writer, and essayist whose work was one of my earliest inspirations, remains one of my favorite English authors. Forster’s creed of life can be summed up in two words, “only connect”, taken from the epigraph to his novel, Howard’s End.
The first of Edward Morris Forster’s work I read was his essay, What I Believe, and his words had a very personal affect on me. It seemed as though I had met a new friend with whom I shared a “secret understanding” and felt reassured about my own beliefs. Continue reading The Spirit of Poetry
While poking around old memory chambers,
Revisiting my childhood years,
I was surprised, not by ghosts from the past,
But by locks on so many doors.
Did you ever have a birthday cake?
With candles for making a wish?
Did they all gather ’round with the birthday song,
and watch you open your gifts?
Did someone sing you to sleep at night,
After gently tucking you in?
Can you recall being told you were loved,
Then saying it back to them?
Did the tooth fairy come as you slept?
Did you ever see a clown?
Did you believe in the Easter Bunny,
Or go to the circus in town?
Did your family all laugh together?
Did you sit on your daddy’s lap?
Did your mother read you stories,
Before your afternoon nap?
Oh, you must have had lots of parties.
No telling the times your family ate out!
I’ve just been wondering, for comparison’s sake,
About the kind of childhood you had.
What a narrow window she looked through
during her allotted time for life.
She couldn’t see over the red clay hill
cut deep by rutted tracks.
Years spent in front of that window,
left the imprint of her knees
embedded within the whorls of oak,
a martyr’s testimony.
That window bears the indentions
her gripping fingers made,
pressed into the wooden frame
in anxious expectancy.
She was in a holding pen unaware,
for hers was a common fate.
She knew nothing of optional plans,
or alternate routes of escape.
Just up the road from our driveway, in the yard of the house at the corner, there grows this ancient sycamore tree. I am sure it is ancient—it’s gigantic. Its white and gray mottled bark wraps a trunk as large in diameter as a medium size tabletop. In places, the bark peels and curls away, like dried hide, revealing smooth white skin underneath. And its leaves, resembling great webbed maple leaves often as broad as eight inches, quickly cover the ground when they start to fall—pieces of brown and yellow parchment for a child to rustle around in, or to make pretend dresses from as I recall. Every time I notice that old tree, something similar to melancholy comes over me, and I am reminded of years past, and feel unsettled, sad. Continue reading Sycamore Trees Make Me Lonesome
I am drawn to all things Victorian and delicately scented.
To dried roses and lavender decorated with lace and ribbons.
To the light, airy, delicate stuff of romance and femininity.
To the sweetness of baby breath, and moonlight kisses.
To sunlight filtering through lacy curtains and falling gently into intricate patterns onto the floor.
To the nostalgia of vintage reminders of times past.
To memories of loved ones long gone.
To those distant days of summer we thought would last forever.
To autumn leaves floating on the crisp air, accompanied by their namesake song.
To sunburned hands I truly used to know.
To the delicate shades and gentle bliss of nature passing around and through us all, in endless, subtle rhythm.
I am drawn to all these things.
The sight, the sounds, the scents of them, whether in the moment or in memory, touch my heartstrings and embrace my soul.