Thursday, November 10, 2011
Happy Hour Under the Weeping Willow of Remembrance
The scent - green and khaki-striped canvas
mixed with my Grandma's sweet peas,
the willow branches forming an arch of sanctuary,
lake breezes, bullrushes and the fresh scent
of summer mornings
when I was a child
at Grandma's house,
all those summers that were a time out of time,
endless and blue-skied
When the adults came,
then ice cubes tinkled,
and there were many trips
back and forth to the kitchen
while my Grandma and I withdrew
to the back porch,
akin in our dislike of the sound of ice cubes
clinking in tall glasses
of amber brew.
Happy Hour stayed happy
for maybe an hour,
and then voices grew louder,
old wrongs were aired,
and people had trouble
with their feet
on the way to the kitchen.
Weep, Willow, for all those long-gone days,
for the people who lived those turbulent love stories,
for their passage made the best they knew how,
for all the love and pain and human misery
that dogged their paths
and kept their lives from peace.
Weep for the silent big-eyed children,
ghosts who dared not speak,
who were banished out of sight as the nights came on,
who carry the legacy
of those years
for the rest of their lives,
a burden that lifts
once they learn compassion
for the struggling travelers without road maps
who were their people then.
If there were a Tree of Forgetting,
I would go there
and, most days, I do.
But when it comes to remembering,
it is the weeping willow tree
and my Grandma's
little cottage on Christleton Avenue
where I hung my childhood,
leaving it there for safekeeping
at summer's end,
picking it up again
like a second set of clothes,
when I returned.
It was my own years of searching
that taught me forgiveness.
I laid it all to rest
and created a peaceful refuge
for my own grandchildren,
as the circle of the generations
turns and turns.
Process Notes: Lately, I have added to my list of Must-Reads a book called Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, by Alexandra Fuller - a stellar title, and one that immediately took me back to my childhood. In my case, my memory flies back to the weeping willow tree in my Grandma's back yard. It is the tree I hang my childhood on. My Grandma's was the place of safety and refuge that lent calm and stability to a life that was volatile and unpredictable at home, given we are a family riddled with addictions. I was the child of a generation that drank, with all that goes along with that.