“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

6.20.2011

a stopped clock, a hot texas sky


and i see my childhood,
the black & white part,
those photos i don't remember posing for.
but there i am,
next to a shotgun house long gone of color,
water drawn from the well out back.

getting there
the dirt roads were all shadows from overhanging trees;
for years i dreamed constantly of those roads,
the hills impossibly steep,
almost straight into the sky,
and even now those roads wind their way into my sleep.
i tell myself it is okay, it is only a dream,
but the waking still takes too long.

this is my father's mother's world.
she died when i was 9
and that shotgun house was not hers,
but the wood that built her home was just as silvered
and the winters were just as cold.
i remember holes in the wooden floor, the wind and dirt below.

i remember her funeral in pale colors,
but the years before are all black & white,
and the years after are gone.
my mother said she made the best biscuits ever,
but i don't remember.
i remember her kitchen,
and i remember her yard,
my father teaching me to shoot on the treeless side;
i remember walking through the fields to the woods;
i see the feet of my girlhood moving through overgrown weeds,
watching for snakes, cousins beside me.
i remember being shy.
but i remember her just barely,
just barely.

she married to not be an old maid, to please her family,
swept off her feet just a little by my grandfather,
at least i hope so,
and she moved to his house and had 8 babies
and lost one child and had tons of grandchildren and then died.
i was her first granddaughter.
and that is almost all i know of her.

almost.
she was smart.  i know that.
she wrote.  i know that.
and i look just like her.
exactly.
i see that in pictures.
the black & white side of my childhood.

i don't have her trunk - did she even have one?
and i don't have her stories - i know she had those,
but i have a platter that once belonged to her,
left to me by my mother,
who treasured it and remembered the biscuits it once held.
told stories of those biscuits.
it is white-gone-ivory.
a pale green stripe running the edges,
flowers sprinkled here and there.

she left her colors to my mother.
perhaps the only ones she owned.

now they are mine.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



17 comments:

  1. That must be a little bit surreal, to look exactly like your grandmother, and knowing so little about her. Does it make you want more? Or is the biscuit dish enough?

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  2. I only lately want more. Maybe having her dish in my house is stirring my thoughts.

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  3. "a shotgun house long gone of color..." I love that line!

    This has been "Reflect Upon Thy Grandparents Week" for us! :) I love that! I wish I could know my grandparents. My dad was their (9th)baby, so by the time I was born they were very old. They were born in the 1890s! (My dad is 81)I was in elementary school when they passed away. I want to k now them now as an adult! I can't imagine the stories they would have.

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  4. Just beautiful writing and imagery!

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  5. Steph - My grandmother in this post was born Dec. 31, 1899, late in the evening. The last night of the century - I know that about her also. I shoulda mentioned that in my post.

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  6. oh my. "she left her colors to my mother." that is a thought, a phrase that will stay with me i think for the rest of my life. you are on fire these days...wow.

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  7. I love this. I love pondering what we have inherited. What gifts we carry bone deep.

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  8. Kelly - you made me cry. i have no idea why - no idea. i do feel on fire, full of so much, full of less fear about what i write. it's a good thing and a scary thing. i will lose people along the way, people i love, but who will not be able to see me the same way ever again. and that is life, and that, i guess, is why i cried.

    relyn - yes. bone deep. that's perfect.

    xoxo

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  9. your writing always captivates me.

    so many time we only seem to care about the stories until it's too late for them to be told.

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  10. i think the black and white side of life is a place for remembering .. this has so much feeling in it ..your words just flow . oh to look like your grandmother , what a gift

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  11. Ahh I love those images - beautiful. I do have my grandmother's trunk and it is my coffee table. I remember climbing in it in her attic. The cedar smelled wonderful. Whenever I want to remember her I open it up and inhale.

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  12. I was thinking in black and white as I read about your grandmother, then was surprised to find she left her colors to your mother. What precious memories, eventhough they are few they are precious. Isn't it interesting what we remember of our childhood and what we forget?

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  13. your writings when you were sad, lost and hurt were haunting. your writings as you begin to heal are haunting. the choice of words never fails to stir my soul. the words in sentence create pictures we can see and feel. i am so pleased life is giving you better black and white and now color.
    i am one of your biggest fans.
    in fond regard, Tilda

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  14. leslye - it's true. we always wait.

    dixie - bless you!

    elaine - it is a gift. i'd never thought of it like that. it is. (though i'd love to have a smaller nose - lol.)

    pamela - i have my other grandmother's trunk and tons of pictures and it sometimes seems unfair to have so little of this grandmother i barely knew. but what i have i treasure.

    donald - wow. thank you.

    marilyn - it's always interesting also what comes back to us, what will trigger a hidden memory. the reflection in this clock was truly like a scene from my childhood.

    tilda - i have wanted to email you many times in response to wonderful comments you leave, but can find no link to you with an email address. thank you so much for these kind words and for all the others. they've meant more than know.

    xoxo

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