Sunday, June 1, 2014

THE GRANDMOTHER SONG


My Grandma, Florence Fitzsimmons, one of the first women in her area who rode for pleasure -
she rode well into her sixties. Note the wagon to the right. No cars then!

I was watching Oprah's interview with Maya Angelou this morning and she said, "I come as one, but stand for ten thousand", speaking of the long line of ancestors who lived before her. 

It reminded me of this poem I wrote some time ago. Some of these ancestors are actual, like the ones who lived through the potato famine in Ireland, but most are imagined. In the soul's journey, I am sure we draw upon the lives of many unknown ancestors in whose footsteps we walk.

February 14, 1998

I wear my grandmother's ring for medicine.
Rubbing my fingers over it,
I feel my connection to her,
and to the long line of old, wise women
who came before her,
who walked the grandmother path 
before she
who walked here
before me.

One of them was a healer;
one of them spoke with ghosts.
In my past are Celtic crones
and warrior women,
mystics and dream weavers.
In my past, women galloped 
on horseback across the plains,
gave birth in tents, in covered wagons 
and in captivity.
A medicine woman is back there,
and an Untouchable,
a witch and a nun.
In my past are bent, exhausted 
and determined women,
digging in the unyielding earth
trying to feed their children
during the potato famine.

Once in vision,
row upon row of silent, 
dead-eyed women
wrapped in blankets,
I saw, weaving their way
through the frozen blackness 
of a winter morning in the Gulag
and, with a chill, I knew them,
and knew I had been there.

Somewhere back there
there was a woman of vision
and a fool.
Somewhere back there, 
wise women sat around a fire
in Council,
speaking truth and governing.

Somewhere back there,
women were burned at the stake.
Some raised swords 
and led armies on horseback.
Some were shackled together 
in a ship's hold, to be sold as slaves.
Some lived in castles 
and some in caves.

Somewhere back there,
once women's spirits flew;
somewhere back there
our souls were  kept in bondage.
Somewhere back there
our feet were cruelly bound.
Somewhere back there 
we threw off all the bindings 
and stood tall.

And now I am watching 
my grandmother's face
emerging before me daily 
in the mirror.
My grandmother's eyes 
are looking out of my face.
They know me.

Somewhere from within
my grandmother has told me
to put on the ring, for now I am worthy.
I, the baby grandmother,
just coming into my power.
No longer a granddaughter,
now an elfin granddaughter 
walks beside me, looking up,
and the vast peaceful knowing
that lived in my grandmother's heart
has come to reside within me.

I wear my grandmother's ring
for love, for memory, for connection
to the line of strong women 
who came here before me
and for the line of strong women
who will walk here behind me,
for the passage of time that is timeless,
for the circle of love that is endless,
for the circle of life 
that keeps turning and turning:
one grandmother out,
one granddaughter in,
footsteps walking in footsteps,
heart upon heart,
all the way Home.

6 comments:

  1. like that ring, a reminder of where you have come from...of the long line of our ancestors stretching back...i wonder how many could name back more than two generations...maybe three...as we look forward we should always look back in that regard as well....

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  2. You know the way into my heart! My eyes are mother's and grandfather's BUT strength through matrilineal lines runs back and back and back and forward. This is a marvelous link of possibility.

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  3. You are indeed your grandmother's granddaughter, Sherry. Indeed you are.

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  4. Your grandmother is beautiful!!!

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  5. you inspire me to reflect.

    gracias mi amiga

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  6. Sherry, this is amazing ...

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