Writing Memories 10
Module 5.1 Generation Next
We have now arrived at our last module: the happiness brought to us by our children and grandchildren. I refer to this as Generation Next. When we emigrated to Canada, our parents stayed behind in what I am now beginning to call the Untied Kingdom. If we were lucky, we saw each other every two years or so. Life’s realities have not changed all that much, and once every two years or so is when we see our daughter and granddaughter. The big difference, of course, is Skype. The social media breakthrough now allows us to see and talk and share on a regular basis. This is wonderful. So, where do we begin with Generation next? With a poem, of course.
Yellow [Poem 1]:
Sunshine and daffodils: my grand-daughter
paddles in the kitchen sink. Her mother
washes feet and dishes. “Sit,” Finley says,
and “stand,” following the words with actions.
Now she says “Yellow, yellow,” as daffodils
fill the computer screen to shine in that
far-off kitchen five hundred miles away
by road, but immediate by Skype.
“Yellow,” Finley repeats, “yellow.” Soon
in that distant province where spring arrives
so much earlier than here, she will see
daffodils dancing their warm weather dance,
tossing their heads to gold and yellow trumpets,
fresh, alive, and young in the soft spring breeze.
Commentary: Amazing how children grow and develop. When Finley first came to visit us, her vocabulary was limited and she would select one word and preach it like a preacher leaning out from her Sunday pulpit. Yellow was such a word. Yellow bananas, yellow birds, yellow daffodils and, of course, yellow jello. Is there really any other color for jello? I tried to convert this poem into prose, but it didn’ change much.
Yellow [Prose 1]:
Sunshine, floating dust motes, and the ever-present scent of daffodils: Finley, my grand-daughter paddles in the kitchen sink, rainbow bubbles from the washing-up liquid, with its hint of fresh green apples. Her mother washes Finley’s feet first, then the dishes. “Sit,” Finley says, and “stand,” she follows the words with suitable actions. Sink water swirls and bubbles as she stamps her feet with the slurp of a washing machine, drubbing old clothes. “Yellow,” she says, “yellow,” as once again my St. David’s Day daffodils fill my nostrils with their heavy perfumes and the computer screen with their brilliant golds to shine in that far-off kitchen five hundred miles away by road, but immediate by I-Pad. “Yellow,” Finley repeats, “yellow.” Soon in that distant province where spring arrives so much earlier than here, she will walk into the garden, hear the robin’s song, and see the daffodils dancing their warm weather dance, tossing their heads to wind-sound through green leaves and yellow trumpets, fresh, alive, and young, fanned by the scent-bearing, soft spring breeze.
Commentary: Some padding, yes, and an attempt o expand the scene and include more varied details, but a success? I am not sure. Right now, I don’t know that I have captured what I wanted to capture. Maybe it is time to rethink everything and start yet again. Before we do, let’s return to the theme of yellow.
Her Shadow [Poem 2]:
Grubby marks remain where her nose rubbed up
against the window pane. Excited she
stood there, watching birds perched on the feeder.
“Finch,” I pointed. “American Goldfinch.”
“Yellow,” she cried out with joy, “Yellow.” Her
tiny hands plucked at air, catching nothing.
Her nose, all wet and runny, left damp, snot
stained letters, her signature, on the cold
glass. That’s how I remember her. Still the
window stays unwashed and her shadow
often comes between me and the morning sun.
Commentary: We all witness them, those moments when time seems to stand still and we see eternity in a grain of sand, or in a stain on the window pane. And what pain we suffer when the little culprit leaves and the house returns to the now unaccustomed silence that reigned before the enthusiastic arrival of Generation Next. The next poem concentrates on the sense of emptiness, and no I will not retouch these poems. They are just where I want them to be.
Empty [Poem 3]:
Empty now the house, clean the floors where she
spattered food and scattered her toys, polished
the tables, grubby no more, where small hands
clattered fork and spoon, her breakfast not wanted.
Empty the bathroom, the tub where she bathed.
Dry the towels, full the toothpaste tubes she
emptied in ecstasy. Where now her foot
-prints, her laughter and tears, the secret
language she spoke that we never understood?
Empty too my heart where, a wild bird, she
nested for the briefest time, then flew, yet
I possess her still, within my empty hands.
Commentary: We have all shared such moments and they will vary for each of us. You have had them too. Write bout them, preserve them, catch them and imprison them in the lines on the page that form prison bars for words. Keep them. They are as valid as photographs and just as powerful. In fact, with the proliferation of selfies and the gradual disappearance of the hand-written word, they are probably even more powerful than the ephemera that, like butterflies or one day moths, flutter and flitter through the anonymities of our digitalized world. And now, may the light of the poetic and prosaic muses shine upon you and bring you a wealth of inspiration, for my journey is over and this workshop is done.