Thursday, October 31, 2013

Stories We Claim

A snapshot: part of my family tree. The Anholt family, 1891. 

Stories we claim + stories that claim us. I love when nostalgic moments kind of bump into you and then you realize it's more than a little love tap. I read inspiring words about family stories right after I discovered a pile of old poems and papers from my college days. This old poem I wrote went hand-in-hand with Christina's words, sprouting an interest in story telling and how family history unravels. 

I have always been intrigued by the passing of memories and how they can change shape, even for those who did not live them. Christina expounds on this craving for family stories in a fierce and lovely way, writing that, perhaps, it is "proof that artists live some part of their lives circling the secret of their calling before their way." She is also bewildered by the stories her mother tells, "like lost stitches in the tapestry of her lineage." Her words were sweet to me today, and they inspired me to reflect on one of my old wrinkled-paper poems: little vignettes and family stitches. I hope -- like Christina's stories -- they inspire you to reflect on your own family's memoir-moments. 
Family History (And Words Sometimes Told)

I want to be there,
Where the weeds grow long
and the fields are gray;
listening to you teaching
to the cattle, driving through the Badlands, 
where the grasshoppers don't stop growing. 
I want to be there,
when she bought that teapot in Vienna; 
once not so rusted and
beautiful in its time

like she was when she fed the hobos
chicken dumplings on fourth of July
on that front step.
I want to be there, 
when you cut off all of your hair 
to remind yourself it did not matter
and then spent 20 years alone 
on an airplane with napkin notes
and old phone numbers. 

I want to be there, 
when you sold what you had
to pump gas in Wisconsin --
living with that Jewish girl, Mutta, 
who always looked pretty in pictures. 
Or when you hitchhiked through wherever 
or when your father fell asleep
under that bridge; 

when you learned to paint in jail;
when you heard we landed on the moon in some bar
in Milwaukee.
I want to be there, 
Where ancient past weaves through your veins
and names make up your DNA 
and memories are more than ripped pages, 
cassette tapes and
faces you don't remember.

No comments:

Post a Comment

"Pleasant words are [like] honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." Proverbs 16:24