Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Poetry Wednesday, Vol. 60

Does your family do this?
Do you take pictures at funerals and gravestones? Or is it just my family? From earliest memory every family funeral I have been to involves each family unit lining up in front of the open casket and taking a snapshot. We do that on my father's side and on my mother's side. I don't know if it's a mid west thing or a missionary thing. On my mother's side, at least in the old guard, there were many, many missionaries. Often family didn't see each other unless for funerals and weddings, sometimes not even for those. So I would suppose that it would only be natural to line up and preserve those memories, even if they are sad.

I remember lining up in front of my Grandpa Hanna's casket at the age of 6, I think 6. My Grandpa Phillips at the age of 26 and my Grandma Phillips at the age of 31. We have pictures of my Mom and brother and sisters in front of my Dad's casket, I believe I was 22. Some would think it morbid I suppose, but I find it a beautiful preservation of memory. In a time when things are a blur, you can look back and see who was there, who you were missing. You can show your children how you looked when. They can be reminded that they did actually meet their great grandparents, even if they don't remember them.

On our way home from the vacation, we stopped in Warrenton and visited my grandparent's grave. To be frank, after Grandma died, I did not think I would ever be back to Warrenton. But we passed directly by, to and from our trip. How could we not stop? It brought back memories of my sweet grandpa and grumpy grandma. It was hard posing the kids - everyone was a bit wild from being cooped up in the car, three out of the four had managed to vomit on the way there, and everyone was feeling a bit gross from our McD's breakfast. But we took the picture. And preserved the memories, and remembered the love of family.

A Plea For Mercy

Anne Porter

When I am brought before the Lord
What can I say to him
How plead for mercy?

I'll say I loved
My husband and the five
Children we had together
Though I was most unworthy

I'll say I loved
The summer mornings
I loved the way the sun comes up
And sets the dew on fire
I loved the way
The cobwebs shine
On the tall grass
When they are strung with dew

I'll say I loved
The way that little bird
The titmouse flies
I'll say I loved
Its lightness
And beauty.


Anne Porter

Nobody in the hospital
Could tell the age
Of the old woman who
Was called Susanna

I knew she spoke some English
And that she was an immigrant
Out of a little country
Trampled by armies

Because she had no visitors
I would stop by to see her
But she was always sleeping

All I could do
Was to get out her comb
And carefully untangle
The tangles in her hair

One day I was beside her
When she woke up
Opening small dark eyes
Of a surprising clearness

She looked at me and said
You want to know the truth?
I answered Yes

She said it's something that
My mother told me

There's not a single inch
Of our whole body
That the Lord does not love

She then went back to sleep


Molly Sabourin said...

Kris, your reflections never fail to fill me (even the sadder ones) with a deep appreciation for your vibrant and colorful family! You are such a breath of fresh air! I found this post, and the poems you chose, to be both lovely and yes, even hopeful. Thanks for sharing and for your friendship!

Michelle said...

I really liked the first poem - it reminded me to continue to treasure the moments right now. I feel like I did a good job of that when the children were littler, but now that they're bigger and cuddle less frequently, it's hard for me to remember.

Thanks Kris,

Beth said...

I think I need to discover more of Porter's poetry. Simple, wise, and straight to the point. Love that about Sandburg and Berry too. Thank you. And I laughed when I saw you all in front of the gravesite. My family, thankfully, have always been ones to remember and pay homage to our dead, though my parents haven't been ones to take pictures, just me. Hope to have a post up tonight with some of our own grave visitings last week. Really we must have a cup of coffee next time I come into town.

PS Lucia wore her mismatched tights to church on Sunday. Love, love, love them. Thank you again.