I just returned from a weekend in Vermont where we celebrated my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. It was a delightful affair, with relatives from all over converging. New babies, babies to come, old folk, middle-aged rest of us. Everyone got along, packed their ennui into small pouches and kept it hidden. The weather was glorious–summer-feel with hot sun, warm breezes, a bit of sweating.
I watched the sun go down over the hill behind the granite sheds on Main Street and felt maybe it wasn’t so bad coming from that town. I held my not-quite two-year-old niece in my arms, the second to be adopted from China, listened to the gleeful noise coming from inside the restaurant, and felt very, very grateful.
We all come from someplace, and most of us–poets especially–carry around a sense of disease that we spend our lives writing about and trying to understand. Once in awhile a grace note sounds. It is worth noting this rare flower.
I don’t know how this goodness will wend its way into new poems, but I am hopeful I can craft something that measures beauty equal to despair. Here’s a poem I like that may steer me toward imagining my parents before they met:
A Family History At dusk the girl who will become my mom must trudge through the snow, her legs cold under skirts, a bandanna tight on her braids. In the henhouse, a klook pecks her chapped hand as she pulls a warm egg from under its breast. This girl will always hate hens, and she already knows she won't marry a farmer. In a dim barn, my father, a boy, forks hay under the holsteins' steaming noses. They sway on their hooves and swat dangerous tails, but he is thinking of snow, how it blows across the gray pond scribbled with skate tracks, of the small blaze on its shore, and the boys in black coats who skate hand-in-hand round and round, building up speed until the leader cracks that whip of mittens and arms, and it jerks around fast, flinging off the last boy. He'd be that one--flung like a spark trailing only his scarf. -- Julia Kasdorf from The Sleeping Preacher University of Pittsburgh Press