Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Family (Pierce Pettis... and covered by Dar Williams)

I am not yet at the point where I am able to speak much about this past weekend - for now, suffice it to say it pendulumed between tragic and magic, with everything in between.

I will share one snippet though - at one point, I was looking at a posterboard of photos that my sister-in-law had made for the funeral home viewing... and there was one picture that literally made me gasp. It was of my father-in-law, probably in his early 20's, standing in front of a plane in his pilot's uniform (during World War II) - were it not for the fact it was obviously taken decades ago, his face could very well have been that of my son Eric, now 19. My sister-in-law's husband laughed at me: "you obviously don't believe in genetics, do you?" - I guess I'd always seen the obvious ("sledgehammer genetics", I told him... :-) of myself and my daughter, my husband and his father... but I could not recall another incident that so subtly blindsided me... and was so comforting in the epiphany...

POEM: Family Reunion by Jeredith Merrin

The divorced mother and her divorcing
daughter. The about-to-be ex-son-in-law
and the ex-husband's adopted son.
The divorcing daughter's child, who is

the step-nephew of the ex-husband's
adopted son. Everyone cordial:
the ex-husband's second wife
friendly to the first wife, warm

to the divorcing daughter's child's
great-grandmother, who was herself
long ago divorced. Everyone
grown used to the idea of divorce.

Almost everyone has separated
from the landscape of a childhood.
Collections of people in cities
are divorced from clean air and stars.

Toddlers in day care are parted
from working parents, schoolchildren
from the assumption of unbloodied
daylong safety. Old people die apart

from all they've gathered over time,
and in strange beds. Adults
grow estranged from a God
evidently divorced from History;

most are cut off from their own
histories, each of which waits
like a child left at day care.
What if you turned back for a moment

and put your arms around yours?
Yes, you might be late for work;
no, your history doesn't smell sweet
like a toddler's head. But look

at those small round wrists,
that short-legged, comical walk.
Caress your history--who else will?
Promise to come back later.

Pay attention when it asks you
simple questions: Where are we going?
Is it scary? What happened? Can
I have more now? Who is that?

QUOTE: "We all grow up with the weight of history on us. Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains as they do in the spiraling chains of knowledge hidden in every cell of our bodies." ~ Shirley Abbott

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