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Poems for ancestors

When my bodyspirit needs to digest mystery, pain, or great love, i turn to dance and poetry. Trying to integrate an ancestral legacy from England and the closer legacy of parents, family, grandparents I barely know, I write two poems.

Graduation poems

Grandma Margaret read “Goodbye” at her 8th grade graduation.
Grandpa Carl wrote his poem in bed at the VA hospital.
I need poems for their medicine.
Stories transport, but a poem goes one better.
Poetry opens the soul to breathe.
Generations keep writing, so it must be true.
Niece Marina read “Friends” at 8th graduation.
My soul filled with air.

The Story of One Leaf on a Tree Made of Steel

The Bodhi tree sheds leaves in Bodh Gaya  Sarnath and Sri Lanka
A monk handed me one, making it holy in that gesture.
I offer a leaf, too, that trembling fell from an English tree
shaken and transplanted to western shores.

Her 1000-year roots braced against feudal law,
embattled thrones, deforestation, and religious battles
while green wold, pansy garden, and cloudy skies
determined that we would stand straight as steel.

In 1636 our William uprooted, transplanted to Massachusetts,
Puritan-free, cut off, banished by brethren to New Hampshire.
Looser in the soil we moved west west west by train,
ferry, wagon, horse, car, belief, quest, occupation, desire?

Leaf and branch, gnarled trunk, hacked at by native, soldier,
land lust, ministry, madness, thievery, wild hope, faith,
Benjamin, Sarahs, Ebenezers, David, Mercy, Hiram, Roxalina,
Luther, Wellington, Susan, Wesley, Margaret, mother, me.

The Bodhi tree is alive in Sarnath, Sri Lanka, and here.
The thick old Wentworth tree lives too, fertilized by dispute,
vision, hard work, demanded grace, abandoned graves,
corrupt memory and the silent mother crying: “Come home!”

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