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I hate how the upload losing the formatting.  Plus, nothing I have tried seems to correct the problem.  Oh well.  Here it is without the proper format.

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The Inchworm and the Heron

On my son’s shoulder sat the inchworm,

Having hitched a ride into the sanctuary.

The eulogy progressed.

I gently coaxed it

Onto a Torah cover,

To bide its time

Until I could help it

Return to its world.

It measured the cover’s perimeter—

Up down, up down—

At the corner it stretched out

Sightlessly      reaching

seeking

striving

A life carefully measured,

Centered on words of wisdom

Trying to find connection

purpose

community

When we went to leave

It had vanished, lost to view.

At the cemetery we mourners

unmoored

unconnected

unsure,

Struggled to strengthen our earthly ties,

Reaching out, looking helplessly,

For what had been lost

Over our heads a heron

Crossed the sky

Effortlessly     floating

gliding

drifting

Might rootlessness be desirable?

Might the ceasing of striving be purposeful?

Above the confines of earth

the heron soared.

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The quintessential American experience

Two adults, two kids

A car, a tent

The open road in summer.

 

Re-creating the vacations of our youth

My spouse and I take our children

Into the expanse of the West.

 

Unlike some friends,

We have qualms about sending our children forth

To grandparents, to camps, away,

For weeks, months, at a time.

Instead, here we are,

In the bubbles of our own creating–

The tent and the car surrounding,

Protecting,

Entrapping us.

 

What is being learned?

Who are the teachers?

Who the students?

 

Growing,

Exploring,

Conquering fears together.

 

The elder and I climb a dangling ladder in the Badlands

Temporarily suspending ourselves and our fear of heights.

The younger marvels at every creature,

sunset, flower,

And we see the marvelous landscape anew.

We climb and relive past ways,

Candlelight in a deep cave

doused to make us face what we cannot see

and see what we hesitate to face.

The relics of the past,

Animal, human,

All made this trek,

pushing themselves to these places.

In the snowy mountains,

we encounter our physical limitations,

while agape at the glory around us.

All peoples imagine their gods in the heights

and we too feel as if we have met mysteries.

 

Somehow, the problems we encounter—

storms, sibling fights, timing, tempers—

all pale in the memory.

Instead, we are left with connections,

built on gossamer threads of experiences shared.

Glad to be home,

Joyful in the knowledge

That we can be more than we often are,

That together we are more than individuals.

Family.

(c)Lydia A. Schultz 2009

Grainy black and whites

Fading, magenta, old color ones

Frozen in time

Faces and places

That I have spent my life

Trying to animate.

 

Like Doctor Frankenstein

I try to breathe life

into the long dead.

 

The corners curl in awkward scrapbooks

The nameless faces behind the glass

The sepia tones of the photo flapper and her mate

Encircled in a broken locket

With a picture of their firstborn.

 

I’ve always listened to the stories

Even the ones I wasn’t supposed to hear,

Things that only made sense

years later.

 

I want to know them, to interview them,

But almost all died before I came.

So listening is what I did.

 

And now, before it goes,

I write their lives, their stories.

Because in discovering,

Uncovering,

Recovering them,

I find myself,

my purpose.

I am quite literally a part of them.

They are my heritage;

This is my legacy.

The stories are all I have.

 

(c)Lydia A. Schultz

A planning, a challenging —

another child,

timed and prepared to fit

our schedules.

 

Everything seemed to proceed easily.

But plans are that only

nothing more

 

Thanksgiving weekend

I bartered with God.

Please let this baby live.

We want it so much.

Give me a reason for giving thanks,

give me this child,

this bit of immortality.

But God had other plans.

 

Deep, immeasurable grief

years later, at Thanksgiving

the waves of loss —

of potential, of possibility,

of a soul connected to mine

gone.

 

Yet unexpected gifts

a community

of women

of friends

of love

shared my grief

 

Controls

plans

schedules

vastly overrated

ultimately self-deluding.

I opened up to possibilities.

 

My second son is special

as all children are

but also in miraculous recognition

without the miscarriage

he would not be.

 

In him

made manifest

God’s lesson in love and hope.

The cliche,

“What will be, will be”

profoundly comforts.

This child is what will be,

the other not.

Simple.

Difficult.

True.

(c) Lydia A. Schultz, 2009

My oldest is about to graduate from college this year, and I have been thinking about the process of nurturing and letting go.  I wrote this a number of years ago, when he went off to sleep-away camp for the first time.  Funny, to me it doesn’t seem so long ago.

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Daniel

 

Absence

Is an ache

Not like the active toothache

But like the way your tongue keeps working a spot

Where the tooth is gone,

The way your jaw remembers that place.

The pain isn’t stabbing or shooting

But constant

A sense of loss

Of being missed

Of something that was so much a part of you

That its absence makes clear

Just how essential.

 

You grow so fast, so far away.

I cleaned your closet in your absence

Finding old treasures, long forgotten,

Finding the badges of your courage,

Achingly.

 

The letting go is hard–

Harder than I thought.

But the joy in the progress, the growth,

The glimmers of the man you will become,

Make me hopeful.

 

So I sit with tears now

That I can’t tell you about.

Tears after the heartfelt hug you gave

In spite of wanting to be macho in front of your friends.

Tears when I heard your tiny brother

Sigh deeply and say,

“I miss Daniel ’cause I love him.”

 

A boy too big to kiss his mom in public

But young enough to sneak

Stuffed animals into bed.

 

My gentle, temperamental son,

I miss you too

And love you.

 

Camp helps me to grow up too.

 

(c) Lydia A. Schultz

I wrote this poem a number of years after my father died.  I was teaching at a univerity a 45 minute, rural drive away, and spent a great deal of time in my car. 

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Legacies

I

I drive like my father.
I never really noticed before
But during my long commute
On the open interstate
I can now see.

My left knee bent, 90 degrees,
Supports my left hand –
Back on the knee,
Fingers curled round the wheel –
My right hand occasionally lends support
But usually rests, gently,
On my right thigh.

The realization shocks me,
Driving into the sun
On the anniversary of his death.
Another brilliant October day.

His legacy revolves around cars.
When the phone call came,
I was painting the new garage.
That cool October day,
Leaves surrounded my feet.
My purple sweatshirt was streaked with
The signs of my marginal competence.
Inside the phone machine blinked,
And I heard my mother’s voice
Apologizing
For telling me of his death
By these mechanical means –
Of the unexpected stalling
Of a life I had never been without.

II

Autumn had always been my favorite.
New plaid skirts and knee socks,
Sharp pencils and smooth paper –
Did I become a teacher from that love?
He calmed my annual fears,
Assuring me that I would do just fine.
The glory of the trees would
Line our river valley
Masking the industrial ruin
In a riot of color.
We’d watch the World Series together,
Especially if the Pirates played.
Baseball linked us
Across our age and gender.

After that call I cried for my loss,
But also for my little boy’s.
He’d never know my gruff, burly dad.
He wouldn’t remember him at all.
So we watch the World Series together,
My son and I.
And every time I look at him,
I see my dad.

The cemetery is an isolated island
On a deer trail
In a sea of corn.
At his funeral,
Yellow leaves floated
In the breeze.

III

I came to dread October.
T.S. Eliot was wrong, I thought.
So many people died in October –
Autumn was cruel, indifferent,
Killing off parents
As if they were no more than the leaves
That could return in spring.
Yet my father’s memory and spirit
Return mysteriously.

The first time that I parked my car
In that coveted, close spot
At the crowded mall lot,
I thought it chance.
But then it happened again
And again. And again.
Everywhere I went.
Then I knew.
He’d given me his special gift –
His luck at finding
The perfect spot.
So when it happens –
Every time –
I whisper “Thanks, Dad.”

IV

Can the patterns arise?
Move and shift?

After my car pulls into the lot,
I emerge to hear the sound –
Familiar, yet barely –
At the edges of recognition.
The sensations wrap about me –
The chill dense breeze,
Trees dancing to music of their own making,
Brown leaves playing tag –
All part of the acrid tang
Of ripeness and decay.

My head tilts upward,
As if of its own accord.
The darkness of inverted Vs
Perforate the cool blue
Gradually, consistently, persistently
Moving, shifting,
To become the southbound giant.

The geese honk.
I accept the complexities of autumn.

Copyright (c) Lydia A. Schultz

I’ve decided to separate my poetry from my blog for learning about technology.   Hey, I work as a librarian; I categorize things for a living!

Anyway, this poem is a reflection I made about two of my great aunts about a dozen years ago.  While they aren’t physically alive anymore, my memories of them certainly are.

I welcome constructive feedback.

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Kinship Shows

Kathy and Eleanor sit
                daintily
on the sofa.
Their        interacting,
                polite arguing,
                being individuals,
somehow point up the similarities:
                beauty shop hair
                ironed print dresses
                inflections of their voices
                shared blindness.

A gentle breeze and the summer heat
encircle them
and the stories I know.

Their Scottish father came to this coal region–
doing the same work he’d always done–
But in America, work echoing
                promise and plenty.
Kathy cared for him until he died at 96
in Smithton
a coal and beer town on the Youghigheny,
where she lived a genteel life.
Yet not.

She and a different sister–Agnes–
married brothers, those Stolting boys.
In the 1930s and 40s,
in that rural Pennsylvania backwater,
Kathy’s husband Carl and Eleanor’s Frank ran a tavern.
But Carl chose
                perhaps not only religiously
to be a minister.
From a barman’s to a minister’s wife–
perhaps that’s why she takes so much
                in stride.
Till 94 she lived in Smithton
fortified by the brewery’s fumes.
But now,
because her blindness scares him,
her son Roy cares for her.
At 98, in Texas,
she is remote
from home and family.

Rooted still in her rural home
Eleanor is surrounded
by fruit trees and family.
Even blind she bakes
                pies
                cakes
                cobblers
as she always has.
The baby in her family at 93,
she spends her days with daughter Doris Ann
and the extensive generations
who all live nearby.
While she traveled with her husband Frank
to remote places in Europe,
she always remained grounded
                not far from where she was born
                in her spot in the Laurel highlands.
She looks so much like her mother
who died when Eleanor was just a girl.

As they click their teeth
and dispense firmly loving hugs,
I see them
                now, but then too,
as the younger women they once were.
I imagine my grandmother Agnes on the couch there too–
a woman I never knew–
between them

in age, appearance, views–
The lovely Robertson girls
                still
ready to take their town by storm.

Copyright (c) Lydia A. Schultz