My mother wanted to tell me of my great-grandmother, a woman she barely knew, but who she imagined more fully that life itself would ever have allowed. History, in her hands was malleable, you could shape it in ways never happened. She wanted to tell me but she knew that her grandmother wouldn’t approve of adopting when your womb was perfectly serviceable, certainly not for a man more than a decade older who could not uphold his most sacred obligation. She wanted to tell me, but I am adopted and this woman can be no more than a story of passing relevance to me.
He only wants to know , he says what she fears most,what is her phobia, everyone has at least one, he claims. She thinks about this for a while then smiles and says her one true fear is called phobophobia, and that she says positively terrorizes her. He looks confused and she sees it. I fear, she adds, people who are in fear even though I know they aren’t contagious. He smiled, took her hand, and said You have nothing to fear from me for I am generally known to be fearless. At that she cringed, knowing that Her second greatest fear was mythophobia and he was a walking, talking example.
As a child I often flew kites, which is to say that I ran haphazardly pulling a string and dragging a wood frames paper rhombus across the park. My father laughed until seeing me on the edge of tears he took up the string and dragged the kite across the park. One day a strong wind blew across the park and the kite lifted into the sky trailing its string to taunt me.
There is a statue of William Penn atop the city hall in Philadelphia seeming to stare down over the city with bronze eyes incapable of seeing. Hagar wandered the wilderness after she was evicted by Abraham at Sarah’s urging, the price of jealousy, with bread and water and the promise of a great nation. It is pure speculation whether Hagar was enslaved and freed or, as we would claim it today, employed by the family. In the end the distinction matters little. Penn remains blind atop the building Hagar and Ishmael are long dead, and Jefferson likely had children with one of his slaves, or so the DNA evidence indicates. I am of Norwegian and Scottish patrilineal heritage it appears though my great nation is a six year old girl and almost three year old boy.
Today is my 15th wedding anniversary, and that merits a special posting to the person who has completed me in ways I never imagined possible.
The sheer inadequacy of words
is made painfully manifest today.
I grasp at words: love, passion, joy
and each still falls short of its intended mark.
There is a moment each morning,
each night as the lights go out,
and every moment in between
when I am love, hope and joy,
but separate me from you
and I am none of those things fully.
Fifteen years ago I said to all gathered
that I do, and ever since I say
to myself, I am so lucky that I did.
Early this morning as I drove through the mist that clings to Portland in March like a child’s yellow slicker, I thought of you, home, asleep on our bed, my side tidy, no faint indentation of life, and I thought of the thousands who have died to date in Iraq, who never again will leave a faint indentation in any bed. It is far easier thinking of you, of regretting the miles between us at this moment, but knowing that I will shortly bridge those miles and we will tonight indent our bed, that two thousand miles is little more than an inconvenience, while many of them are no more that a dozen miles outside of countless towns; but the effect of that short distance is infinite and they can only indent the thawing earth beneath the granite stones.
For a while, I will be using Thursday’s posts to feature poems I previously had published. Today’s, Early Morning previously appeared in The Right to Depart, Plainview Press, (2008).
She said I should be thankful that I am not a rice farmer. She said that I should be thankful that I am not over seven feet tall, and not less than four feet eight inches, although she concedes that four feet nine would not be cause for celebration. She says I should be thankful I was not dropped on my head as a baby. I am thankful for all of these things, and for her, for she saves me countless hours remember things for which I probably should be thankful.