Sunday, June 30, 2013

Guiding lights.




What happened to grandmothers
sent away to grow old
in the privacy of other old people
with pain in their legs
and noise in their ears
while their children were too busy to notice
the dying light around them?

And fathers too, and big brothers and sisters
corralled with their toys, in their rooms
communal goals far from their keyboards?

And the old man in the neighborhood
who could bring history
alive just by pointing
to that building
that bench
at the corner
of your life
and that of all the others
who came before you?

How is a girl to know that she is pretty enough and smart enough to
be desired and to desire, if she doesn't hear her dreams in the voice of her elders?

How is a boy tested and told how to hold back, to be gentle
to those who need him; to be tough with himself, that what he senses as power
doesn't entitle him to own anyone, or to demand anything that isn't given freely to him?

How do we tell folks to walk a straight line among the rubble when the lights have been turned off and everyone is alone to find their guiding soul?

13 comments:

  1. interesting verse...i think a child learns much when they have time with other generations...a history they learn and their roots....some great questions there in the end as well to ponder...i think it a greater life among family...and not put away..

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    1. Brian, I left my family behind to come to America. That loss weighs deeply.

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  2. So true, so sad, Rosaria! I think too many families are isolated from each other and aren't able to savor the wisdom to be shared between the generations. A very lovely and thought-provoking post!

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    1. Thanks! Modern life gives us individual tombs.

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  3. Replies
    1. We keep learning what to do from those who came before.

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  4. "And the old man in the neighborhood
    who could bring history
    alive just by pointing
    to that building
    that bench
    at the corner
    of your life
    and that of all the others
    who came before you?"

    When I read that stanza the hairs on the back of my neck stood up to attention. What a beauty and yet it's got such a sense of otherworldliness. I loved this poem. Many thanks.

    Greetings from London.

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  5. wow, what thought-provoking words in such beautiful phrasing...I don't quite know how to respond but want to. Your poem brought forward thoughts of my father who made it his business to let us know everything about our ancestors and all the extraordinary people of his state...he was known as the North Dakota historian for the schools...textbooks...sometimes he had me illustrate them. Now my brother and sister, who have similar desires for history, keep us up to snuff on all the rellies here and in the world at large. I'm lucky :)

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  6. It's the proximity of all generations rubbing elbows and staying in touch with one another that makes life richer. We have so much to offer the young, they have so much to bring us. Yes, may it be so.

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  7. We stay connected differently, these days. And yet, I do see a lot of disconnect between the generations. Those priceless stories often fall on deaf ears.

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