Legacy: NaPoWriMo 2018, Day 17


The thoughts and looks and talents of others of my kind
are written on my body and written on my mind.
My genetic family, departed from this earth,
exists in my coloring, expression, voice and girth.

I’m glad I got mom’s optimism and her rhyming wit,
but her success with pastry? I have none of it.
I cannot bake a cherry pie. Light pastry is a riddle.
The few cakes that I  ever baked were soggy in the middle.

Why couldn’t I inherit my mother’s slender legs
instead of my Dutch aunties’ solid ample pegs?
For women on my dad’s side were noted for their girth
as well as for the many years they spent upon this earth.

Thin skin that picks up bruises from each ungentle touch?
I’ve inherited it all–thank you very much!
My mother’s taste for chocolate, my uncle’s taste for gin––
both sides of my family I carry safe within.

My grandmother’s hands that always needed to be busy,
my Aunt Stella’s tendency to wind up in a tizzy.
“Blahsy blah!” she would exclaim, and flop her arms and walk
in tight little circles. I couldn’t help but gawk.

But sometimes I find myself getting flustered, too,
my mind stomping in circles as I figure what to do.
My upper arms look more like hers, my stomach like my mother’s,
although I’d rather have Aunt Betty’s if I had my druthers.

I could go on for stanzas, listing each thing that I’d rather,
but my recital has already turned into mere blather.
So I’ll just say a thank you to those who came before.
For in spite of all your ills, I have you at my core.

Somehow the parts you left in me, although they aren’t all pretty,
are very rarely mean or dumb or dense or dull or petty.
You left me curiosity that fills out all my days––
as well as that  Dutch work ethic that doesn’t let me laze.

Dad and Mom, I thank you both for your good sense of humor
and for your facility at blending fact and rumor
into stories that you then simply had to tell.
And thank you for instilling the need to tell them well.

Slight exaggerations are expected, I have learned––
one vital ingredient of stories finely turned.
And though each story must be told starting at its top,
the secret lies in simply––knowing when to stop.


The NaPoWriMo prompt: write a poem re-telling a family anecdote that has stuck with you over time. This one from a few years ago fits the prompt, I think. Tomorrow have early appointments so will get this posted tonight. Perhaps I’ll do another tomorrow.

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About lifelessons

My blog, which started out to be about overcoming grief, quickly grew into a blog about celebrating life. I post daily: poems, photographs, essays or stories. I've lived in countries all around the globe but have finally come to rest in Mexico, where I've lived since 2001. My books may be found on Amazon in Kindle and print format, my art in local Ajijic galleries. Hope to see you at my blog.

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