Joe, Ray, Louise, Peggy, Helen (Mom), Lillian
Olive, Virginia, Grandma Dena, Grandpa Fred, Betty
From The Forest of Memory
They were the trees
in the forest
of my childhood.
Sturdy farm folk
called away to far flung cities
in which to plant seeds,
grow their own families.
We would gather
at Grandma Dena’s little house
in Iron Mountain, such a happy
ruckus we made to ring
through those seemingly
paper thin walls.
And somewhere during the sunlit
afternoon, Auntie B would call
me apart from the other racing
chasing kids because I knew all
the words to the old songs and clearly
carried the melody.
We would sing of Red Sails in The Sunset,
the loss in dancing to The Tennessee Waltz,
how each of us might be the You in another’s
Sunshine. The Amazing Grace I felt
standing at center of this small copse
of flourishing timbers as they raised
voices from bass to soprano in smooth
belling harmony that called to surrounding
neighbors, who stepped out in their own
backyards just to listen.
Only six or seven, I knew myself to be
sheltered in their midst, safe from whirlwind
of outside world, yet a necessary, needed part
at heart of their impromptu chorus.
Elizabeth Crawford 1/27/15
This was inspired by Rosemary Nissen-Wade http://passionatecrone.blogspot.com.au/2015/01/aunty-ev.html
Her poem about her Aunty Ev brought back a flood of memories from childhood and this particular one that remains clear and vividly detailed. The photograph is a family portrait, taken many, many years ago. Grandma and Grandpa had nine children, 56 grandchildren, and well over a hundred great-grandchildren. Periodically, my mother and her sisters would call for a gathering and at least once during those times, I would be called upon to start and lead this beautiful family choir. Grandma Dena had a lovely soprano voice and Grandpa would accompany us on his harmonica. Thank you, Rosemary, for bringing it all back to me.