Thursday, November 18, 2010

in all her giving

my great-grandmother struggled through adversity of a sort i have never known.
i would have liked to thank her for giving birth to my mother's father who in turn
helped bring my mother into this world.
i know the very barest of her life, for knowledge of her has been filtered through my mother's father who was understandably circumspect about the terms and conditions
by which his own mother experienced this world.


she cries out
for silence
but the memory
of his absent
beer-slurred voice
cuts through the
thick hardened depths
of their candlelit room
as somewhere
in the great cold house
a clock
eleven hollow gongs
one for each of her children
still hiding behind
or clinging to
her skirt
and no chimes
for the five
who have already

for them
only the silent spaces
full rich
and mute

for her the kitchen oven
the gas already hissing
a soft doorway
to another
more beautiful world

other responses to the visual prompt for this writing can be found at
magpie tales hosted by the exceptional "willow"

thankyou - wherever you are


Helen said...

Your Magpie is deep, dark and full of emotion ... you write so beautifully.

The Reason You Come said...

This is a lovely, moving tribute to your great grandmother. The images created by your words are vivid and evocative.

willow said...

A sad subject dealt with so beautifully, Steven. Eleven strikes, one for each of her children...what a haunting and powerful thought. This piece reached out and grabbed my heart, since my great-grandmother was institutionalized for nearly all of her adult life.

Jinksy said...

Great take on this weeks prompt, but can I tell you- the Mr Linky Link took me to a previous magpie of yours. You may want to check the link for yourself, then enter a new one if need be.

R. Burnett Baker said...

Beautiful insight to what surely must be the memories and sufferings of all mothers at some time in their lives.


Friko said...

A dark and moving tale, you bring the light of love to it.

Linda Sue said...

Eleven gongs and five gone? Ouch! I too am grateful for her strength, her ability to make remarkable people, but do wish she would have escaped.
Oh, in answer to question about the shallow roots- it was a tree carried in an envelope from the dryer part of the state- east of the mountains- planted by the lake and did not have to work so hard to find water...thus the shallow roots and the topple in the wind.

Jo Floyd Lucas said...

I cry for the women of the world who bore too much...too much hardship, too much grief, too many babies, and too few resources. Many today still do.

Thank you for this poignant image reminding me of my own grandmother (who bore 12 children) and the strength, perseverence, and just plain luck that helped her to survive to the age of 99.

Blessings to you for honoring this beautiful woman in your life.

Bee's Blog said...

A sad story indeed. So much pain and tremendous hardship in this beautifully crafted piece.

My great grandmother who was widowed 'early' bore fourteen children of which eleven survived. The ability of women to endure under such circumstances is hard to comprehend.

Thank you for putting your family history into words for us to share.

Cad said...

Just how tough did women have to be back in your great grandmother's day?

Suz said...

Oh my..this was a thunderbolt

Brian Miller said...

silent spaces...full rich magpie...

Teri said...

I don't know if I have ever commented on your blog before but I have visited before. I felt the need to comment on this poem because it seems to elicit such sadness, such melancholy and it resonates with me because my father committed suicide when I was seven so I feel that I can relate to the sadness you speak of here. Great writing. Your words are always so eloquent and deep.

steven said...

teri i was going to leave this post alone and not respond to comments. i usually reply to every comment but there are some posts that need to hover like kites catching whatever breeze there is and moving with that breeze. your comment evoked a response and that is enveloped in my compassion. thankyou for visiting and for your thoughtful comment. steven

Jingle Poetry said...


I love my grand other the most.
love your magpie.
perfect poem.

kathew said...

what a sad tribute to your Great Grandmother...wonderful writing