Monday, June 20, 2011

Magpie Tales #70 & Poetry Jam "A Secret, Preserved"

Photo courtesy of Magpie Tales, Tess Kincaid
A Secret, Preserved

Musty stairs, filtered light,
my breath labored.
The attic, once familiar,
once comforting, is barren.  Almost.

My grandmother's fading presence,
her history, whittled down
into a solitary cardboard box, its dented,
dusty corners bent with age.

Reverently I kneel,
my clasped hands unfold,
seeking memories within.

Hand cut paper people,
hidden for decades, greet me,
their accordion hands linked together,
eternally dancing.

I trace carefully written
curves and loops fading into sepia paper
and embroidered initials upon a
delicate handkerchief;
a cherished rememberance?

Fresh young faces from 1918 smile;
a first kindergarten class?

I tilt a frame, capturing dim light
and become hypnotized by
sensationally dark eyes
peering into my world, into me.

Backlit, she glows with antiqued vigor;
I realize this is "she", Jenny.
The one whispered about,
the one of whom questions
were not to be asked.

Eavesdropping, I learned a single tear
slid from the corner of her eye
moments before her death.
Intrigued, I never forgot,
hoped to one day know more.

Now I hold her in my hands, beauty preserved,
protected for all ages behind old glass.
I close the box, decide to keep
the "dancing people" and the photograph.

The "secret" remains hidden,
but her image is finally, once again,
graced by the light of day.

by Margaret Bednar, Art Happens June 20, 2011


Most recently, I submitted this to "Poetry Jam", December 6, 2011.   I apologize if some of you have already read this poem.  I'm real busy this week and wanted to participate in Poetry Jam.

This is for Magpie Tales #70.  The photo that Tess Kincaid provided reminded me of a face that I have been fascinated with since a little girl.  This poem is loosely based on a family "mystery", one that really cannot be answered as the last one to know the "story" was my grandmother.  Jenny was her sister-in-law, my grandfather's much loved older sister.  Jenny died in 1909.   I loved walking up the wooden stairs to my grandmothers attic.  The old beds and quilts and boxes were so much fun to touch and look through.  I remember a box I loved to play with - it was full of all the things my grandmother used as a teacher of elementary children around the year of 1918.  I believe this was one of her first classes:

I also submitted this to One Stop Poetry's "Form Monday".  The topic is Free Verse, hosted by Shay, aka "Fireblossom-Word Garden".  I have considered my writing a from of poetry, specifically free verse, but now, I'm not so sure.  I am a newby at attempting poetry - hesitantly started in October of 2010.   I don't mind hard critiques, actually welcome them.  I might not have time to go back and caress a "poem" right away, but I can apply words of advice as I move foreword...

Also submitted this to OSP's "One Shot Wednesday"#51.  By the end of the day on Wednesday, there will be well over 100 submissions!  


Sioux said...

Margaret--So many wonderful phrases. Someone's history being "whittled down....corners bent with age...accordion hands."

And thanks for sharing a bit of your personal family's history.

Dad B said...

Wow--excellent, very impressive piece of "work"--a masterpiece in my view.

DebbyMc said...

Beautiful. The images are so real. Dark eyes peering into my world, into me...yes, I felt them, too.

Reflections said...

A brilliantly penned beauty... my compliments to incorporating a bit of history into a very touching, heartfelt piece.

I'm pretty lost when it comes to free verse so I will leave those accolades to Shay.

Kay L. Davies said...

Wonderfully written, beautifully done.
— K

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

Isabel Doyle said...

a fine tribute to another life and time - we have such a responsibility I feel to treasure and celebrate our families

Kathe W. said...

what a lovely waltz through family history

Brian Miller said...

a lovely visit to those memories....hand cut paper people...i like that...the embroidery i could feel making memories tangible...


…this is some kind of fine writing for me though i wondered what the secret was… and that almost 93 year-old smile bequeathed good harvests in this modern age…. adorable.(:

Brightest blessings.


Victoria said...

I loved going up into that attic with you and wondering about the family mystery. Beautiful use of detail and you created the perfect mood to go with the whole story.

cat said...

"their accordion hands
linked together, eternally dancing" loved these lines, what a picture!

Artfully, gracefully and carefully written.

Elizabeth Young said...

Absolutely wonderful blog, wonderful art and wonderful poetry. I loved so many of the phrases in your poem, but particularly 'misty stairs, filtered light,' 'hand cut paper people,' 'and poetry curves and loops fading into sepia paper.'
I am impressed and signed up to follow you.

Margaret said...

Wow! So many comments! I thank you all for your very kind response to this poem. I dug deep and really thought about this and you have made my day. :)

Grammy said...

I really enjoyed your take on this photo. :) Have a great week.

Steve Isaak said...

Solid tale-versing.

ayala said...

Beautiful write.

Lyn said...

She does deserve the light of day..both the Mag pic and Jenny herself..It's good to wonder about secrets, which become poetry...

Jacqui Binford-Bell said...

Mother had boxes of old photographs of relatives I would rather not have admitted. Not a single one had a word written on back. No idea who they were and ergo they are all mysteries.

But I think making up stories was what made me creative.

Beachanny said...

An interesting journey through the past in an array of sepia - images and dreams spurring the imagination. The best way to sort through the wilderness of verse is to keep writing, find your voice, your set of symbols, your way of raising the subtext to the surface. You've made a good start. Keep writing. Gay

Pat Hatt said...

Very nice take on the past, you give it a nice feel to it with each verse too, nice.

dustus said...

"Hand cut paper people,
hidden for decades, greet me,
their accordion hands
linked together, eternally dancing."

Wow. Quite good—as is the personal details for the subject and background that you create through your poetry.

Tess Kincaid said...

I love when family histories are preserved in poetic form. Wonderful, Margaret.

Kavita said...

Aahh.. memories always hold a dear place in our hearts... even the memories of our loved ones... long after they are gone, their dreams still tickle the backs of our necks, making us wonder..

Thanks for making us part of your grandmother's story, my friend...
What a beautiful poem this is!!

Tumblewords: said...

Fascinating story!

Anonymous said...

I just love family mysteries my family is full of them. Very engaging. Gorgeous writing =)

HyperCRYPTICal said...

This is wonderful - thank you.

Anna :o]

Templeton's fury said...

the photos are great! love them!

Margaret said...

I believe I have visited all your blogs and most I have left a message... I am overwhelmed and excited to see all the creativity and talent here at Magpie Tales!

C Hummel Kornell a/k/a C Hummel Wilson said...

Beautiful! Love your family photos too.

Peggy said...

I enjoyed reading this. I was right up there in the attic with you. Love that you put your real life family mystery into poetry. We probably all have those kinds of stories in our histories--so many just forgotten. Glad you rescued Jenny. Thanks for posting with Poetry Jam. Sounds like you have a very busy life. Great that you find the time for writing too.

Mary said...

You forgot to mention that you submitted it to Poetry Jam. I hope you will add that as well, as we are trying to grow the site! I liked your poem and really think there were a lot of secrets among the older generation. And, for the most part, people respected them.

Cassiopeia Rises said...

Wonderful poem of remembering and exploring your family's past. Great write.


Heaven said...

I am glad you reposted this..I like peeking into family albums and learning the secrets.

Great write and backgrounder - enjoyed this ~

Brian Miller said...

nice...i remember this one...smiles.

hope the march to the holidays is treating you well margaret...

twinkly sparkles said...

Wow. I'm glad you shared this and I feel lucky to have read it.