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Ancestors Unfold the Stories Untold*

January 12, 2010

Crows gathering by the hundreds
on barren trees
above break
the late afternoon silence
of this crisp January light.

Beneath them in a cave of cellular deep
a boy’s ancestors unfold, and

wake

whispering into him
the stories untold:

of his great great uncle and his rescue
from the orphanage’s walls, of
the star fruit drying.
Of his father’s birth leading
to his grandmother’s dying.

Oblivious the woman eats dinner,
lays back down
and sleeps.

The ancestors knead into him
the traits he will keep;

He will have my long fingers
and graceful hands

And our square finger tips,
said the man.

All but one on each hand.

Then our square jaw,
aquiesces the man.

Chanting into him the stories
he won’t remember:

Of the giant mechanized birds flying
over the islands, bringing brides
and promises rising.
Of the grieving brother left
lying in the sand denying.

Voices louder like the oil around the sizzling plantains frying.

Ancestors assigning traits he will keep:

the muscle mass on his thighs
green-brown lace in his eyes.

The hair they concede will be a surprise.

Words-words will come easy
the storytellers gathered agree.
Humor enough for days, they make him
devious, short tempered-
yet measured in ways.

Great grandfathers bickered
and aunties chimed in;
He’ll carry which songs?
Resemble whose kin?

A young man being determined-
a boy not yet wrapped
in the millions of years
of expectations that are

breathed in
beat in
smoothed
kissed and
and wished in

from his dark ancestor’s
and his light ancestor’s

skin.

Oblivious the mother woman now
rolls over
stretches and yawns.

Only half noticing the crows
cautiously calling to her- dawn dawn

dawn.

+++

*This poem written to honor the anniversary of what would have been Dixie Dale, my daughter’s birth (miscarriage at thirteen weeks) and believe it or not: the date of my son’s conception. Both dates attributed to January 12th, 2007. It is also the day the Maharishi broke his silence every year.  An auspicious day.  I am going to enter this poem in My Brown Baby’s yearly writing contest about “Something New”.

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. January 12, 2010 5:38 am

    Catherine! This is wonderful. You are such a gifted writer. Best of luck to you with the new site in this new year. So many things to be thankful for and to look forward to! I continue to follow your blog with enthusiasm, excitement, and inspiration. You inspired me to get blogging again, after 4+ weeks off. Face my emotions and vulnerability as a new adoptive mom. You are awesome! Hugs to Sam and Marcel.

  2. Molly permalink
    January 12, 2010 12:10 pm

    This is simply beautiful.

    • January 12, 2010 6:38 pm

      @ Molly–thank you.
      @ Kathleen–that is high praise as well to consider your work as inspiring others. Thank you!

  3. Sarah permalink
    January 13, 2010 12:11 am

    Wow. When you decide to write a poem, you really write a poem, and when you decide to reformat, you really re-format! They’re both beautiful — the poem and the blog. I’m so inspired by your exuberance!

    • January 14, 2010 12:17 pm

      @ Sarah thank you-high praise from a fellow poet, writer and one who pays great attention to detail!

  4. January 14, 2010 2:45 am

    Hi Kate. That’s a splendid poem.May I show it to my writers’ group?
    And a fine web site. You do as all proud. Dad

  5. January 26, 2010 4:38 pm

    Captivating! You are a gifted writer. Congrats on your honorable mention in the MBB Beautiful Mind Writing Contest!

  6. January 26, 2010 6:15 pm

    Very touching poem! Loved it

  7. January 26, 2010 10:22 pm

    That’s beautiful.

  8. January 28, 2010 3:43 pm

    This poem absolutely takes my breath away. You had me at “crows”

    Congrats on your honorable mention! well–deserved.

  9. Jodie permalink
    January 29, 2010 5:37 pm

    Lovely, thank you for sharing this.

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