Oddments

In search of story


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Connections: October 22.17

I groped for the word: appalling? scary? astonishing? embarrassing? All the above?

This is one of two units in which the stuff of my life is stored. You know, dear reader: stuff? It isn’t life but it becomes life. Doesn’t it? It tells of people you miss. It tells of the daily. It’s the familiar, the comfortable, the personal.

It’s easy to scoff at mere things. They are, after all, temporary. But they are also deeply a part of us. So I stand in absolute terror at the base of this mountain of things. It stretches floor to ceiling and wall to wall — in two units! What will I keep? What must go? How did this happen? What will I do about it all?

But, more important, what do I need? My writing mate Tamara is a minimalist. She and her husband have amazingly pared their life down to necessity. They have by example taught me to re-think ownership. That will enter into this. Also I think I’ve reached a time in life where the letting-go begins. Ironically, a holding-tight happens at the same time. I want to hold tight to memory even as I want to let go of the things that hold the memory.

Thus tension.

I might have a house to go to; I’ll know more in a few days. If so, the whittling begins. Look out for shavings!

 

 

Connections

 

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Connections: August 22.17

A solar eclipse

box of family stuff

we have to admit

it’s never close enough.

We search for the clues

whether cosmic or cousin

and sigh with unanswered

questions by the dozen.

 

This is my dear friend Donna, visiting. She is the one who gave me the concept of Connections and who lives the concept. She is visiting family and old friends and acquired a box of family history along the way. Pure awe.

Connections

 


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Connections: August 13.17

My family’s in the garden

the past grows ever green

my mom is in the phlox

most surely, though unseen

her dad in the tomatoes

my green-thumbed Grandpa Mauck

son of North Carolina

whose hills rolled in his talk

Grandma O’Hern in moss roses

her summer’s tried-and-true

her son, my dad, in marigold

(the only flower he knew!)

the dill for an unknown

its air a bit of mystery

but I know it figures somewhere

in my leafy family history

I don’t come (as they say) from money

I come more from dirt

so it’s good to feel them back

in horticultural concert.

 

 

 

Connections


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Connections: May 29.17

While Jean served in the Marines (yesterday’s post),

Edna, my other aunt, served in the WAVES.

She also kept a scrapbook.

On the left, the lyrics to “The Navy’s Got a Job For Me.”

On the right, a booklet of songs, dedicated (no kidding!) on the day I came into the world.

Thus do families keep the reasons for Memorial Day.

Connections


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Connections: May 9.17

My grandma had a tiny house

if you take a yardstick measure

but it was huge in other ways:

curiosity and treasure.

The coolest stuff was hid away

but I knew where to find it

and she would let me hold it

and tell the tale behind it.

Now I’m packing up my house

which means, I’m sure you know,

packing up my family

striving to let go.

Memories sneak in everywhere

in closet and in drawer

one thing leads to another

as I’m sorting on the floor.

You will understand, I’m sure,

I hyperventilate

when I note the Christmas card box:

45 for $1.98!

And thus do different eras

re-tell themselves to me

as I wrap the family flotsam

as if crown jewelry.

Connections


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Connections: April 20.17

Cold recurring thought

from which there’s no escape:

is this what it all comes down to —

bubble wrap and tape?

Is this how I preserve

bits of family lore?

I must insist on NO:

that’s what my words are for.

Wrapping family hand-me-downs

in paragraphs and pages

is how we bubble-wrap

our stories for the ages.

Who cares? you ask. Who’s going to read?

Oh, someone will, somewhere —

a curious, amused

incredulous distant heir.

The unknown genealogist

no matter he or she

doubtless brilliant, charming

in fact, a lot like me.

And thus my thoughts run on

unburdening shelves and drawers

caught between the memories

and the unknowable encores.

Connections