Family Matters

“All children are my children. I teach them the songs and whatever else I can. That’s what Grandmothers are for – to teach songs and tell stories and show them the right berries to pick and roots to dig. And also to give them all the love they can stand. No better job in the world than being Grandmother.”
Leila Fisher (Hoh)

It started with a head injury:

my father’s great grandfather, a night watchman

patrolling in the darkness when a drunk

clocked him with a metal lantern.

Erratic ever after, prone to sudden

bursts of rage, his family discovered

the calming technique of placing

my two-year-old father on the old man’s

lap. That prompted lullabies and soothed

the beast. I’d always found

this story charming when my gregarious

father told it.  At least, until the day

my grandson rushed into the office, only

securing my father’s attention by

scampering behind the computer

desk amid the jumble of wires. The roar

drew my protective swoop, separating

the two, perplexed by this inordinate

yet familiar fury, intent on saving

the innocent. I underestimated

this child’s compassionate wisdom.

He waited a few weeks,

at first ignoring my father’s overtures,

the blues he sang obviously inauthentic.

As advances grew

progressively kinder, I watched them

move to the country of healing.

The old man’s heart finally open,

it’s time to rock ‘n’ roll today.

My grandson runs into the room.

“Don’t scare Grandpa,” I call

so my father is ready, manufacturing

surprise when he feels a poke.

Giggling, the two-year-old master teacher

withdraws a few feet, curling into a ball,

the sportsman’s invitation to play.

When my father pounces with a shout,

the child screams in delight and runs

runs, runs to the safety of my lap.

We huddle in a blanket. “Scary!”

He declares. His heart is pounding.

Eyes wide, we watch the monster

approach. “Stop,” he commands.

And when it appears his boundary won’t

be respected — my father advances —

I throw up my palms, as well.

“Stop!” I plead, and add, “This is base!

We’re safe!” Ah, yes, the rules of sports.

He retreats.

We cuddle until our heartbeats calm.

And then the experiment repeats.

My warning song, the scream,

the panicked flight. Over and over.

Now crawling fast

over an ottoman, creating an obstacle

course, his pursuer always a step behind.

My mother is crying, she is laughing

so hard. My inner two-year-old perks

her ears at this uncharted territory,

learning how to feel this huge emotion safely.

At last I see the true story of the monster

my father had to comfort

when the frightened females in his family

placed his innocence like an offering

into the lap of the madman. And how he had

to take it in, keep it simmering for

this very opportunity. How often

do we miss the quintessential teaching

embodied in a toddler, the strong brave

heart offering to heal the gaping wounds

long papered over by our tales, yet

so obvious to this tuned-in being?

The energy worker of few words: the emphatic

“No!” and the passionate “Yes!”

He felled the demons

of seven generations with one exuberant

swoop. The figures — that I’ve spent decades

painstakingly setting up on my altar

of healing intentions — topple like dominos.

You can bet the ancestors are feeling

these embraces. “Hugs,” he commands

before he leaves.

Word Of The Day Challenge: Gregarious

Daily Addictions Prompt: Plead

I recycle 2016 Daily Word Prompts: Darkness

FOWC Prompt: Quintessential

Ragtag Prompt: Embrace

3TC: Country, Blues, Rock ‘n’ Roll

The Constant Invitation

“Consciousness narrows as we get older….Adults have congealed in their beliefs and are hard to shift…whereas children are more fluid and consequently more willing to entertain new ideas. If you want to understand what an expanded consciousness looks like, all you have to do is have tea with a four-year-old.” Alison Gopnik
“Or drop a tab of LSD.” Michael Pollan
“In contemplative practice, I set awakening as my highest priority. Every single minute. Ahem. Wake me if I forget?!” ~ me to the universe.

By a sheer fluke, I spy
a shy green heron perch
on my neighbor’s deck. The white
clouds reflecting catch
my attention. It is difficult for me
to see tiny fish dart
even in this clear water,
with all of these trees
vivid summer green
waves in the lake. But this
bird’s doors of perception
are wide open and even though I sit
peacefully behind screens,
as soon as delight and curiosity
move me to peer
through binoculars and marvel
— such colorful plumage,
a human watching alert
transforms fishing to flight. Sometimes
in crowds, I can feel eyes on me,
turn quickly and meet a speculative stare.
And if I enter a room where I’d been
discussed, it is obvious. I can tune in
to what you are feeling right now.
The world is a connected field.
We used to toddle about,
tripping on every unfiltered perception
before choosing survival. A butterfly’s
enticing dance is ignored for the speeding
car. We learn to cautiously keep
our attention on what can harm us.
And that’s a good thing,
as it brought us here. Now
I am ready to return
to childlike wonder,
give up the belief that I know you
— or anyone or anything. So as I
notice and embrace my habits
of survival, I can wiggle
like my two-year-old teacher.
I keep asking: What is this?
Who are you?
Wanna play?

Inspired by the Daily Addictions Prompt: Transform

I recycle 2016 Daily Word Prompts: Clouds

Daily Ragtag Prompt: Fluke

I’m playing poet by combining these three prompts daily. It’s fun!