During a 50-year career that culminated in three Grammys, one Presidential Medal of Freedom, a Pulitzer nomination, and 36 books, Maya Angelou never failed to use the power of her skilled words to candidly reflect on the sorrows and celebrations of the human experience. “The world knows her as […]
There are many ways to preserve relationships in written records. For those who have hundreds of pages of personal poetry, take the time to peruse what you have captured about family and events set in motion by family members as you create any retrospective about your life or family.
Poetry often captures what prose cannot evoke. When putting together a family history, bring relationships alive with the poetry you created.
This following example links generations and captures what I felt as I made a phone call to an elderly aunt to inform her that my eldest brother had passed away.
In loving memory of my big brother
James L. Hill
Born August 22nd, 1939
Died July 22nd, 2015
among those who first greeted me
were the last to leave
as complicated as it comes
but last to leave
once we were five
i remember you
i remember you all
in my superstitious brain
i wonder if they met you
Max said Dad and Dave
were there to go with him
i took black cloths from mirrors
though they draped each memory of you
i only now
reflect on life without you
you always remembered my birthday
and i always knew you loved me
and you were loved
all your life
our aunt, elderly, so frail
closer in age to you
than you to me
fragile tremor in her voice
just said, “oh Jimmy,” when i told her
i swear i could see you as a baby
in her arms in her mind
as she said it
I had never heard you called that
first born son, to first born son
my sweet, gullible brother
teased or bullied for your kindness
you loved without measure
happiness bursting across your face
whenever you saw me
in spite of your pain
your years of pain
a buddhist prayer
a psalm for you
the year of mourning ended
in the dark quiet of this day before the dawn
though tears formed like dew to meet the day
—Nancy Hill, 22 July 2016
If you are creating a digital record or history or memoir, consider hyperlinks to images with captions that add concrete information to elements of the poem.
For example, I might link to a an image of my fathers family before he left home or to my brothers.
I am participating in a “blog hop” today with another post of mine about the remembrance of the assassination of President Kennedy. I wanted to include this poem, Braided Dreams, that was accepted as one of the poems of the week by Poets Against the War, but it isn’t about Kennedy, not really. It does allude to Kennedy though, and that is how so much of our Late Boomer lives have been. Kennedy is part of the infrastructure of our public consciousness. The world outside us was shaped by this event and our lives were shaped by that world. We are inseparable.
i dreamt of second planes diverted
of the world powers still suckling from milky towers
of wars ended
but not the one we are fighting
of oil never pumped for the patriarchy
of grassy knolls with gunshots never fired
of resurrections of camelot
the mythic moments
real only in the other world
where fact fiction and logical conspiracy
live in balance
where competing realities
braid sleepy dreams
into the connecting fibers of companion worlds
a rapid cycling brigadoon
surfacing altantis-like from undepleted oceans
if we all slept at once and dreamt the same dream
would we awaken to a different world
November 17, 2004
N F Hill
Grassy knolls and Camelot. Our Boomer psyches look over our shoulders looking for unseen gunmen, but we also believe in mythic fairy tales. I don’t think we can understand Later Born Baby Boomer psychology without taking this fracture, this bifurcation of our sensibilities, into account.
Today’s post will be short and sweet. As some of you know, I am an adult survivor of childhood medical abuse, and I am writing a book that centers on that experience. (Publishers, agents, feel free to contact me!) It is not a tell all, nor is it sugar coating a tragic situation. I have gone back into therapy while I am writing this so as to maintain my health which I have worked so diligently to acquire. One of the things that comes up time and again in my sessions is how stubborn and tenacious I am, and how have persevered through a of difficult situations and stages in my life.
So hang with me as I lean back against a good-sized willow tree down by the creek and expound on the power of persistence as evidenced by music, my own experience, and poetry.
Today, for the P entry to the A to Z Blog Challenge I am opening with this music video for a song that has helped me many times in the last decade plus. “Don’t Give Up.” by Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush, and I will end with a poem.
The thing that has helped me survive, take a deep breath and go on even when I was experiencing what seemed like unending pain and despair that would never even lessen, was sheer my stubbornness.
Please believe me, no matter what the challenge, you can make it through. Perhaps you will physically not make it. We all die eventually. But you as an unbroken, proud, and positive individual will survive even that when your loved ones remember how you were always you and never gave in to being anything other than what you believed in being. But that is a long way off. There is much to be lived before that.
There was a part of me that might have been labelled oppositional-defiant by some folks had that been a buzz word when I was an adolescent. I really was only protecting of myself. It is okay to protect yourself. I believe that far too many women in today’s world, here and abroad, are taught to give in… to something, some concept, someone, and this is done to the detriment of individual women and all women. And for those of you who are thinking that I must be a heathen to say such things for the current incarnation of American Christianity requires subservience at many levels to many masters, all I can say that opening your heart to good and asking light and love to fill you and yes, even use you as an instrument of that love, is not subservience.
Don’t give up, persevere for yourself, for your children, for those you love, for the world.
The other P word that has given me strength is “path.”
bread and cupcake crumbs
by nancy hill
today I am thinking about
babies that i love
but scarcely know
a mothers sister’s mother
loved me less than all her other mothers
in decades beyond remembrance
her toddler tentacles of charm
and distributed intelligence
ensnared me no less
one of blood and heart
one of heart and law
distance has impoverished
more than our poverty
the distance of heart is quantum
the insurmountable distance of mind
between father and daughter
without motherly intervention
spawned a gulf
where shadows of resentment flash beneath the surface
school and move en masse
amid bread and cupcake crumbs
nov. 27, 11