Tag Archives: poem about family

Memento: NaPoWriMo 2019, Day 12

Memento

The ring is dull with tarnish that I will not wash away
for half of its life stories are wrapped up in the gray.
The silver was the fairytale­­––the fantasies they dreamed
before they discovered life was much more than it seemed.

Thousands of daily scrubbings of tablecloth and shirt.
Another thousand cuppings of fingers through the dirt
retrieving carrots, beets and potatoes for the table.
She wouldn’t have removed the ring, even if she were able.

Through my whole long childhood, I saw it on her hand,
wondering at the beauty of that simple silver band.
Worn thin with age along with fingers sinewy and spare,
the silver gleam lost to the ring wound up in her hair.

It’s pattern now worn down with age, it nestles in a box
with other family memories: jewelry and rocks,
a tiny woven figure and a buttonhook and key––
each one rich with happenings still held in memory.

All worn and rusted, tarnished with the lives that they were part of,
I don’t know all their endings and I do not know the start of
many of these objects that now are all that’s left
of the family members of which we are bereft.

Their lives rest in these objects in their depleted beauty.
They’re here to provide evidence, as though it is their duty
to tell entire stories, both the pleasures and the pain,
so the lives they’ve touched upon have not been lived in vain.

And though I do not wear the ring, I cherish all its beauty––
all its former silver gleam obscured by toil and duty.
For the years since she first left us, I have kept it tucked away,
like so many of her virtues, hidden to the light of day.

 

Here is the NaPoWriMo prompt: Today, we’d like to challenge you to write a poem about a dull thing that you own, and why (and how) you love it. Alternatively, what would it mean to you to give away or destroy a significant object?

Shelter: NaPoWriMo 2019, Day 10

 

Shelter

On the prairies of Dakota, 
weather often came with exclamation marks.
My father’s forehead was ringed like an old tree,
white from above his eyebrows to his fast-retreating hairline,
from his hat pulled low to guard from every vagary of weather.
“It’s hot as the hubs of Hell!” he’d exclaim as he sank into his chair at noon,
sweeping his hat from his head to mop his brow.
A nap after lunch, then Mack’s Cafe for coffee with his friends,
then back to work in the field until dark, some days.

Those long Julys, we kids strung tents across the clothes lines in the back yard
or lazed under cherry trees,
no labors more strenuous than wiping the dishes
or dusting the bookshelves in the living room.
Books were our pleasure during those long hot summers:
our mother on the divan, my sisters and I on beds in dormered rooms
with windows open to catch infrequent breezes,
or deep beneath the veils of the weeping willow tree.

“Cold as a witch’s teat in January!” was as close to swearing 
as I ever heard my dad get, November through March, stomping the snow off rubber
overboots in the garage, tracking snow from his cuffs through the mudroom/laundry.
Cold curled like Medusa’s ringlets off his body. We learned to avoid his hands,
red with winter, nearly frozen inside his buckskin gloves.
His broad-brimmed hat, steaming near the fireplace
as we gathered around the big formica table in the dining room.
Huge beef roasts from our own cattle, mashed potatoes and green beans.
Always a lettuce salad and dessert. The noon meal was “dinner”—main meal of the day.
Necessary for a farmer/rancher who had a full day’s work still ahead of him.

Our weather was announced by our father
with more color than the radio weather report.

Spring was declared by his, “Raining cats and dogs out there!” 
We knew, of course, from rain drumming on the roof as we sat, deep in closets,
creating paper doll worlds out of Kleenex boxes for beds and sardine cans for coffee tables, rolled washcloth chairs and jewelry box sofas. 

Only afterwards, now, have I really thought about how we were protected
from the vagaries of weather as from so much else.
A mad dash across the street to school was the extent of it,
or short trip from car to church or store or school auditorium.
It was a though my father bore the brunt of all of it, facing it
for us, easing our way. It was his job.
As my mother’s job was three hot meals a day, a clean house, afternoons spent
over a steaming mangle, ironing sheets and pants and arms and bodices of blouses.
After school, one or the other of us girls at ironing board, pressing the cuffs and collars.

We were sheltered, all of us,
from those extremes of that land I didn’t even know was harsh
until years later, living in milder climates:
Australia, California and Mexico.
Our lives, seen in retrospect,
as though for the first time, clearly.
Remembering the poetry
of how a man who really lived in it
gave us hints of its reality.

The NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a poem making use of a regional phrase describing the weather.

Family Vacation

 

 

 

Version 6My dad in a slower mode of conveyance.

Family Vacation

My father on vacation was robotic in his thrust.
His modus operandi was to get there or to bust—
another hundred miles or so before we stopped to sup,
and we rarely got a room before the moon was up!

When he hit the highway, he became another man.

No mere roadside attraction could deflect his driving plan.
In those days of two-lane traffic and a speed limit of fifty,
he thought five hundred miles a day sounded rather nifty.

Fathers prone to threaten, who hit and rage and cuss

are, I fear, too often too ubiquitous.
But this was not my father. Rage was not his style.
He simply had addictions to mile after mile!

My dad was generous and fun. He told a story well,
but to take a trip with him was nothing short of Hell.
 His proclivity to “get there,” I fear was never curable,
and so family vacations were just barely endurable!

 

Version 2
My sisters and I with my dad.  He didn’t usually look this grim!

The prompt words today are highway, durable, robot and ubiquitous. Here are the links:

https://fivedotoh.com/2018/09/01/fowc-with-fandango-highway/

https://dailyaddictions542855004.wordpress.com/2018/08/26/daily-addictions-2018-week-34/durable

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/09/01/rdp-saturday-robot/

https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2018/09/01/ubiquitous/

Generational Reunion

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Generational Reunion

Those stern-looking ancestors with furrowed brow—
if they saw what they’ve evolved into now,
would they be shocked at how I spend my day
toiling for hours on tasks that don’t pay?
Would my sense of humor be found too offensive?
Would they be shocked and would they feel defensive
if I told them the truth about what I believe?
Would how I turned out just cause them to grieve?

Would they swim in my pool, enjoy my strange home
with odd paintings and statues beneath a great dome,
or think me a heathen and pray for my soul?
Would my redemption be their only goal?
Would the truth of their progeny cause them to balk
so they were loath both to laugh and to talk?
Transposed to my setting, I’m sure they’d be shocked
but similar traits might come out as we talked.

One might be an artist, another a writer.
The atmosphere might turn out closer and lighter.
I’d see their high cheekbones and they would see mine.
We’d compare our physiques and our tastes as we dine.
Surely there’s something in genes that would bind us,
draw us together, unite and remind us
this is my past that is visiting me
and I am the one that they turned out to be!

 

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These are photos of my Dutch and Scottish ancestors. The prompts are setting, loath and ancestor. Here are the links:

https://fivedotoh.com/2018/08/07/fowc-with-fandango-setting/

https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2018/08/07/loath/

https://dailyaddictions542855004.wordpress.com/ Ancestor

Longing: Non-WordPress Prompt for the Day

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Knowing this was the first time in over 4 years that I haven’t had a WordPress daily prompt to follow, forgottenman gave me this one.  If you’d like to join me, just post your blog and then give a link to your blog in my comments section. Being that this is also Open Link Night in dVerse poets, if you are writing a poem, you can also link it HERE. Be sure to use the Mr. Linky bar given on this site to link your poem.

I will list links to other new prompt sites as I discover them tomorrow.

Longing

This morning’s church bells’ constant bongings
woke me to familiar longings.
Coded as they were in dreams,
when I awoke, they split their seams
and spilled into my conscious thought.
Futile to yearn for what I’m not.
No longer young or lithe or trim,
no passions spilling from my brim.
No husband, mother, father, lover.
No guardians to watch and hover.
I’ve grown away from most of life,
connections severed as with a knife.
Still, I do not long for these.
I do not pray on bended knees
for what is past or what is lost,
for I know pining’s pain and cost.
My longing, now, is just to see
what life’s plot is left to me.

The prompt today was longing.

Near: dVerse Poets Pub, Apr 28, 2018

Near

My father went from obscurity to a sort of small renown.
He worked hard as a rancher and the mayor of our town.
He met my mother at a dance in her sister’s borrowed gown–
both of them lonely visitors to a faraway strange town.
I’ve thought about it often since we laid him down.
Why didn’t I ask more questions? Why didn’t I write it down?

Many a calf he helped to birth and many a field he’s mown.
Avoided his mother if he could–long-suffering aged crone.
Not many highways traveled,nor many airwaves flown.
He died in his angry daughter’s arms–the two of them alone.
I’ve thought of it often till regrets have turned into a drone.

His eyes were always looking further over yon.
Over a ripening field of wheat or over a fresh-mowed lawn.
Working, often, until dark and up again at dawn.
A man of camaraderie and wit and brains and brawn.

He liked to tell a story and sing a rousing tune.
Stand on the porch at midnight to piss under the moon.
He gave me a turquoise ring, a baby rabbit and a coon.

Now that he’s very gone away.  Now that I’m very grown,
I know my flesh is of his flesh. My bone is of his bone.

And I wish that I’d asked more questions. That we’d both been less alone.

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The form of this poem is one consisting of six stanzas, the first with 6 lines and each thereafter one less line.  Each line in each stanza rhymes with all the other lines in that stanza and each stanza’s rhyme is a near rhyme to the last. The name of this form is Sylvestrian Near Rhyme and since “Near” describes both the theme and form of my poem, it is also the name of the poem.  And yes, I did make up the form!  I’d love it if poets given to rhyming and meter would attempt the form and send me the results as comments or a link to this blog.

For dVerse Poets Pub

Legacy

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Legacy

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.


If you haven’t had enough, HERE is another piece I wrote to a similar prompt.

 

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/legacy/