Because of my difficulties in following my family's past
(although I'm still searching),
I decided to call Inworld at Samhain's deepest hour
and contact Grandmothers on either side of the family.
The following poems represent that conversation:
first with my father's grandmother
and the second with my mother's grandmother.
Across the veils I reach to know
the ancestry that's mine:
all to Britain, yes, although
one crossed the Emerald brine.
In Wales, my father's father's birth
was covered up with shame,
and in the ancient mystic earth
his father took the blame;
twas madness or a demon's touch
- according to the lore-
and woe to the woman wed to such
beyond the bedroom door.
But farther back, if truth be known,
there was a knight of skill
whose honor kept him near the throne --
his ghost is watching still.
And what of grandmother's legacy
of herbs and healing brew?
She leaves an invite just for me
so I can learn it true.
She says her sisters were the same --
it was a family mark --
all had the Sight; all had the Flame;
and only one chose Dark.
She said her husband just went mad
and slept once with another,
and so my father's father had
a barmaid for a mother.
"There's kinfolk here", she tells me now,
"who knew the bastard son,
and yes, those people would allow
his granddaughter to come."
"A fisherman, much in your past,
once sailed the Emerald Coast,
and found a lovely Irish lass
who read much more than most.
Now one more thing before you go --
on this side of your line,
a Pictish woman bore a son
who had a simple mind.
And yet he knew the very day
when death or birth would come,
could tell what danger came their way,
and became the Chieftain's son.
Much more there is back farther still
of sailors, horsethieves, and squires,
of one crusader who would not kill
and a priest burned in the fires.
Come back again, my long lost child,
and I will teach you more
about your heritage of the Wild,
and the magic beyond the Door."
"So to New England, the query goes
to know what history lies
beneath the rocks and winter snows
where someone's ghost still cries.
So quiet, then, the past remains
for none were much to talk --
an ethic for work put too much strain
on the family's future stock.
Such passion held so deeply twined
that nothing was revealed
and only fear consumed the mind
and love had to be concealed.
No smiles or laughter creased the brow
or broke the silent wall --
the children couldn't be allowed
to play, or run, or fall.
And yet, the tradesmen fill your past
-- carpenter, potter, wade --
efficient at their chosen task;
effective in their trade.
Many sailors and similar kind
spent lives upon the sea,
leaving the English coast behind --
discovering their legacy.
And clerics, though so much farther back,
and scribes - among the best -
and an engineer whose Pacific track
brought trains to a new-found west.
So long the line extends beyond
the lochs tween hill and lea
but here the Scottish link is gone
through deadly rivalry.
Two small girls escaped the war
that killed the clans they claimed,
and when they crossed a distant moor,
they quickly changed their name.
So I and she, your grandmothers be
though none may know us true --
we've made a tartan with history
of red and green and blue.
The sons we had were tough and bold,
but quiet as a fire,
with hearts, though generous, often cold --
with adventure their only desire.
Their wives, like them, would ever roam
on horseback, foot, or cart,
and seldom ever had a home
that could contain their spark.
Come back again and I will tell
of others in your fold,
who walked that path tween heaven and hell,
and gave you a wandering soul."