|art by my Great Aunt Elsie|
Anywho. One of the benefits of letting myself write more is having something to share on my little blog! Below, I'm posting a poem I wrote about my Great-aunt Elsie. Enjoy! (And by the way, what will you do this week that you just love?)
I never visited her,
my great aunt Elsie,
Never saw the life she built
out of the bad hand she was dealt.
Born to an overwhelmed father and an ailing mother,
with so many mouths to feed
in the Great Depression.
Not a single ace or king, nothing up her sleeve.
Her mother passed (Passed what? The final test?)
and her older sister (my grandmother) tried to care for them—
Elsie and her tiny twin brothers--,
her young newlywed husband (my grandfather) just couldn’t handle it.
and so, it was off to the orphanage.
My grandmother stood tall, in heels and her best skirt,
watching small, wiry Elsie twist her dark auburn hair.
Finally, she signed the papers at the counter, so many words stuck in her throat,
and the clerk hurrying her with his eyes.
I don’t know much about the orphanage,
except that that’s where my grandmother said
Elsie must’ve learned to be a lesbian.
Long years of living with so many other girls
and no boys, she explained.
But I have the wisdom of time,
and so many homosexual branches off my family tree.
Genetics are genetics.
My sister visited their apartment once, in Seattle,
Great Aunt Elsie and her artist partner.
They painted flowers and trees and laughed from a purple velvet couch.
They walked down to the farmer’s market every Saturday.
I like to picture them side by side,
Gray hair swaying,
pushing bicycles with baskets heavy laden
through the shining streets.
I like to study her art hanging on the wall
in my hallway in California.
The beauty she created smiles out at me.
I like to think of her, her head tilted,
considering the lines, the light,
a cat sunning in her window.
I like to think of how she built a quiet castle
out of a bad hand of cards.