i was remiss in not explaining the post title, “Unquiet Ghosts".” I was impressed with all the stabs that you folks took, similar to some of my answers on the written portion of my Master’s examination. William Faulkner, the legendary Southern writer, had his fictional world described often as a land “haunted by memory.” And his events were embedded in the landscape itself. The term “unquiet ghosts” was used by more than a few critics in describing his writing. Since i was writing about the landscape of my south and particular memories, I borrowed the phrase.
And now for part two of our literary interlude… I have watched (much of it against my will) the impact of cancer upon my family and chronicling it more in my heart than on my paper, but on my last trip to Winnipeg, as part of a writing exercise in a book, I wrote a poem that on the surface appears to be about Hannah. But it speaks to a common thread i have seen in all 11 kids… a sort of enforced growing up boot camp.
Cancer has demanded so much of all of us… Katherine’s freshman year has been consumed by trips home, Mary’s senior year, which should have a dizzying exhilarating time of options and possibilities instead had this cancer looming always in the vicinity, I was having outpatient surgery on Bethany’s birthday, my mother caring for me in the last years of her life… so while the poem names Hannah, it screams of the experience of us all.
this is a poem to my baby, Hannah
who was robbed her last year of childhood;
whose gold-flecked, lash bedecked eyes
have stared unblinking at my hairless head.
Timid voice and words rushing crashing into one another
impossible to understand; we falsely thinking
she is frail
not seeing she is not young, but old
beyond the spill of her years
my cells growing wildly: a mother
from my baby shaped
as day by day concede the weakness
the fear inside her fighting to be
will not reach her eyes
though she wills her grip firm;
her soft touch betrays her.
We thought we knew
the future held a girl lingering in reckless abandon.
But now we know that was
only a many-yeared illusion
and the girl who encompasses the hamster with
whispered love murmurs
and who fashions flowers from sugar
This girl, she stands strong in my place.
I write this for life demanding its’ way
for hope we might yet
mama and baby girl be.
thank you for sharing it with me.