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LMS VI: sorting heirlooms



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Mon Aug 29, 2022 12:52 am
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lliyah says...



sorting heirlooms | for people i wish i knew


AN LMS PROJECT


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Overview - I'm hoping to start a new collection here of poems mostly centered around family objects or objects that are connected to family stories for LMS!

Themes - nostalgia, family, separation, home, dying + resurrection, faith, family

Characters:

* Leslie (1890's) - my great-granduncle who passed in his 20s from TB
* Great Grandmother M - married to Great Grandfather W, a bit of a "wild woman" but lived a very hard life
* Great Grandfather B (1850's) - my great-grandfather who farmed land in the Midwest and moved to the US from Germany as a young man.
* Great Grandfather W (1940's) - another great-grandfather who worked in mines and went into the Navy in WWII.
you should know i am a time traveler &
there is no season as achingly temporary as now
but i have promised to return
  





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Gender: Female
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Mon Aug 29, 2022 12:54 am
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lliyah says...



Souvenirs



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hymnbook inscriptions: copying of a traditional verse/epitaph, written down by my 6th great grandfather in context of a faith statement
you should know i am a time traveler &
there is no season as achingly temporary as now
but i have promised to return
  





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Mon Aug 29, 2022 12:56 am
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lliyah says...



Project Notes



Object Ideas
> underwater basket weaving
> passport
> draft card
> covid test
> crucifix
> letters
> post-card
> hymn
> photograph(s)
> album
> farm land
> stolen home-land
> fire-damage
> river-stretched lungs
> hooded eyelids
> obsidian & other precious rocks we tossed in our flower bed
> african violet
> the piano
> luggage bags
> dead fish
> painted vanity
> baptismal banner
> flowering tree
> a stolen cat
> broken vehicles
> silverware set missing exactly one teaspoon
you should know i am a time traveler &
there is no season as achingly temporary as now
but i have promised to return
  





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Mon Aug 29, 2022 1:14 am
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looseleaf says...



Spoiler! :
ok but the theme of your poems is so cool. like, as someone who loves studying family history/people who have passed, this is super interesting. :))) best of luck!!

also, if you don't want comments on your thread, I can delete this
  





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Wed Aug 31, 2022 1:18 am
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lliyah says...



Thank you very much @looseleaf! I am so passionate about ancestry research that I've got a lot in my brain that could work for poetry; I hope some of it actually gets out on the page though; that'll be the trick! Thanks for the well wishes!

Here's a poem I wrote a while ago that is obviously not part of this project - but is what I'd like some of the poem's themes to aspire to.

son threshing in harvest | the winnowing fork

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you should know i am a time traveler &
there is no season as achingly temporary as now
but i have promised to return
  





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Thu Sep 08, 2022 3:59 am
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lliyah says...



This poem is told from my take on an imagined POV of my great-granduncle Leslie in the early 1900s, who I've written about previously here. My family has a basket he wove while in quarantine in a tuberculosis sanitarium. Before the days of antibiotics there wasn't so much of a cure for tuberculosis - so while in sanitariums people would sometimes learn to basket-weave, make jewelry, paint etc. It's a bittersweet thing to think about. I never knew him, but often think about him. An edited picture of him is at the bottom of the poem. lit center link

Week One


posted: 9/7/2022
(31 lines)


quarantine tasks | woven basket
(content warning: dying)

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you should know i am a time traveler &
there is no season as achingly temporary as now
but i have promised to return
  





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Sat Sep 17, 2022 3:01 am
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lliyah says...



This poem blends some themes from a few different people. I am a descendant of someone who was killed during the Salem Witch Trials and so am alluding to that a little here. The "heirloom" of this poem is more symbolic rather than literal - but would be the burning stake of judgement thrust upon women and especially upon mothers to be "(good) mothers". The poem isn't a value judgement on the subject - as the poem says 'people aren't characters", I am only attempting in the poem to present the complexity of this particular inheritance. I drew the little bird illustration on the side. lit center link

Week Two


posted: 9/16/22
(25 lines)


a wild woman, and a burning stake
(content warning: fire / death)

Image

Spoiler! :

text -

my great grandmother was a wild woman -
not in any of the acceptable ways
a woman has ever been allowed to be wild -
but in the way that used to cause women
to be sacrificed as burnt offerings on stakes
and nowadays under hushed breath and
averted gaze pretending we don't see the smoke -

she's hardly a sympathetic character -
she married two men (at once), and abandoned
(at least) six children between them,
and if there is one thing that we don't forgive
women for, it's failing to hold all their children
on their backs, even while their ankles
are latched to stones, when they're thrown into the sea
we don't look kindly on those who fail to be (good)
mothers; this is a rule we keep, while we kindle
our fires and hunt down witches -

but people aren't characters,
and maybe it is more maternal sometimes
for the phoenix to allow herself to fly or even die
before she burns down the whole nest
and you know i have in secret wondered (in wild dreams)
if we are the ones who are somehow in the wrong,
if we are the ones wild and unhinged;
after-all who would set their mother aflame?
you should know i am a time traveler &
there is no season as achingly temporary as now
but i have promised to return
  





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Mon Sep 26, 2022 2:35 am
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lliyah says...



This one is very abstract and may not be clear in how it's connected initially to the collection. I am writing here about the idea of a family tree that has echoes of "familiar deaths" - in my own (known) family tree two people have drowned in a river, and we've had three house-fires. I believe there's some sort of meaning and carried over impact of these event. This poem is maybe also a bit of a metaphorical reflection on the inheritance of generational trauma.

week three


posted: 9/25/22
lines: 20


"i don’t believe in reincarnation because heaven is vast and full;
but i believe i can hear the echoes of my ghosts like water rippling from long ago.
"


water-logged lungs
(content warning: death)

it is easier [in the hardest way,] to forgive
a river than a fire for stealing a person away.
no one wants to burn alive;
but drowning can be subtle;
can be calm; can be three
generations [heavy] with water-logged
lungs, & [heavy] river-roots, &
[heavy] with no plans to move
from the flood-plains -

& death seems to always echo
in this family tree, in ways that feel like
symmetry; inherited fatal-flaws that catch
the fabric of time like a snagged edge of tapestry,

& i am still unraveling myself
from you; and you; and you. and
you're still holding on.

& sometimes i wonder
if i wouldn't choose the fire
if only so the river-tide wouldn't sweep up
all this [heavy] silt-sieved grief [again].

Image
you should know i am a time traveler &
there is no season as achingly temporary as now
but i have promised to return
  





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Mon Oct 03, 2022 3:53 am
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lliyah says...



There are some Lutheran hymn-scholars, who compare the relative importance of the Bible and hymnbook to the sun and moon. If a person coming from overseas could only keep one book between their hymnbook or Bible, often people might choose the hymnbook, because the Bible could be found more easily and the hymnbook would enable them to continue to be able to worship. We have some very old hymnbooks and Bibles in my family - and I'm intrigued by the idea that some of their owners weren't able to read them. So why hold on to them? The poem explores this theme of the importance that these heirlooms like books can take on beyond just their utilitarian purpose - which I also touch on in this napo poem from earlier this year

Side Note: in some of my poems where I'm saying "great grandfather" or "great grandmother" I'm not necessarily talking about my great-grandparent, but may be speaking of an earlier relative or a combination of relatives. Thanks! Also the opening epitaph I found on top of a faith statement for another ancestor and it appears to be a traditional verse people have used in many places, not sure of its origin.


Week Four


posted 10/2/22
lines: 26


"When I am dead and in my grave
And all my bones are rotten.
When this you see, remember me
Lest I should be forgotten"

- Traditional Epitaph


hymnbook, sea-vessel

my great grandfather owned a single book;
couldn't read, so no sense weighing down tables
with impractical things, a shelf is for a lamp,
a counter for rising bread, arms for tilling land,
a book... an endless unknown, a forgotten magic, a hope
his book served no utilitarian purpose, and yet
for its lack of use, was his most prized possession
a sturdy German Hymn Book, that had immigrated oceans
filled with the psalms he hummed in partial remembrances
to the tune of seasons changing, and somewhere among
the pages he swore he could hear his mother singing;
and in a way, the book he couldn't read, became infinite
his weathered hands brushing the pages that curled
at his fingertips, when the rain came late, or the child
became sick, or when the prayer couldn't be uttered aloud,
and again he'd hum his psalms and trust the One for whom
these words were written for would receive them all the same
as years tipped over the horizons, and the pages baked
with decades of summer-sun, dog-eared and worn-with love
like smile-lines stretched across harvest tanned skin,
seven sons learned to read, but the hymnbook
they solemnly agreed was not a book to be read,
but a instrument to be played, a blanket to stretch over,
a boat to carry you home when you'd forgotten who you were.

and so I gingerly trace these pages turned sea-vessel,
turned prayer and I try to hum along to the psalms.

Image
you should know i am a time traveler &
there is no season as achingly temporary as now
but i have promised to return
  





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Mon Oct 10, 2022 2:39 am
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lliyah says...



One of my great-grandfathers served in the Navy in WWII - after 4 generations of his family living in a very small, remote section of land, he was sent away from everything he knew to distant countries and islands and I wonder what sort of shock that was for him. To go from never having seen a lake, or leaving his state, to sailing the ocean. His wife was only 23 and had a baby at home when he first left. I can only imagine how challenging it was for those young people fighting in the war and how that affected the rest of their life. The poem is told from the imagined perspective of the person leaving for war (aligned left) and the person staying behind (aligned right). My own immediate family has many people who've served in the military, much respect to anyone who has experienced this sort of family separation due to war or deployment first-hand. lit center link Some of the "unafraid of drowning" themes pick up from my 2021 NaPo Week Thread.

Week Five


posted: 10/9/22
lines: 47


"may you have fair winds and following seas"


a sailor's goodbye; a draft letter & a quilt to hold

Image
Image


revised version


10.25.22
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you should know i am a time traveler &
there is no season as achingly temporary as now
but i have promised to return
  





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Mon Oct 17, 2022 3:28 am
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lliyah says...



Week Six


posted: 10/16/22
lines: 16


Image


naming weeds; and other things (pt 1)

my grandmother; my mother's mother,
could name every plant like a well-known friend,
greeting the purple milkweed and the marsh marigold,
and asking the sweet-ferns how the corn lilies are doing
i could almost imagine the flowers knew her too,
answering in polite reply to her questions as she worked,
pushing new soil across trailing roots, and humming
at creased leaves, noting the sun was bright, and
the summer long.

and isn't there a love to naming things?

so i would follow, gingerly patting dandelions and
calling out imagined names to the weeds and grass,
hoping i might enter into this conversation,
and hear where the sun goes at night,
or what the crickets prepare for dinner,
or why the seasons change.
you should know i am a time traveler &
there is no season as achingly temporary as now
but i have promised to return
  





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Sun Oct 23, 2022 10:56 pm
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lliyah says...



My maternal grandmother left me two items that I very much cherish - a gold baptismal necklace (that has a wild and beautiful story to go with it) and a miniature Lutheran hymnal with my name imprinted on the cover. I was always really happy to carry it around as a kid, because I knew it was a "special" and important book, and I think also could discern as a child that prayer and hymns placed one in a holy setting. Hymns are quite important to my spirituality. I have another poem about my grandmother and hymns from NaPo 2020. To me, there's something very comforting in knowing I can sing some of the same songs that my grandparents, and great grandparents etc. sung about their faith. I can't ask them what they believed, but surely one wouldn't sing a song that one didn't believe - and so through our shared hymns, we learn and perhaps one could say, we even pray together.

---

week seven


posted: 10/23/22
lines: 41


things i learn to love about my grandmother in hindsight (9.9.2020)

you got the sense that she probably told the sun
when it was time for the day's work to be done -
her skin told her story clear; too many days
with too little rest, you could see worry etched
into her smile, even young - a strange expression
to find saved in a photo album, but somehow
it gives me peace - to know the weight
against her strength. she was always
like a well-loved quilt; too weathered to be
so unexpectedly warm.


naming weeds; and other things (pt 2) (10.23.2022)

my grandmother; my mother's mother,
was particular about the way the sun should rise,
how the grass should grow, how the seasons ought to stir
and everything in between - not unkindly, i'd like to think;
but matter-of-factly; in the way of knowing
what you want and who you are. that if
the water wasn't boiling before she returned
from the field with the crisp sweetcorn in her hands,
then the corn was not fresh enough, that on Easter Sundays
you didn't tap your toes in the pew to the hymns, that you
said what was meant, and kept quiet about the rest.

some would like to call a rose prickly,
but those are just the ones who know nothing about flowers.


naming weeds; and other things (pt 3) (10.23.22)

as a child i didn't know what to do with my name;
it stumbled on my tongue and caught in my throat -
it felt like a dress i could never grow into
and i sometimes would look around my shoulder
to see if it belonged to someone else.

i wanted desperately to be someone else.
someone bold, someone loud, someone brave,
someone who could carry her syllables
and correct people as they misplaced them,
instead of apologizing for the misunderstanding.


naming weeds; and other things (pt 4) (10.23.22)

my grandmother; my mother's mother,
was particular about the names of things,
of every flower and hymn, of country roads,
and family trees, she scrawled names like poems
into address books and photo labels, holding every name safe.

when my grandmother; my mother's mother,
was preparing to pass -
she bought a small leather hymnal
not too unlike the one my great-grandfather carried
from Germany, but with the pages bright
and free from coffee or tobacco stains,
and had my named printed on the cover
in small golden letters - bold and sure.

and now when i am uncertain of how the syllables should fall
or catch the edge of unknowing,
i picture those letters printed on the cover - bold and sure,
and particularly mine.

after all my grandmother kept the names of everything,

and isn't there a love to naming things?

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you should know i am a time traveler &
there is no season as achingly temporary as now
but i have promised to return
  





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Mon Oct 31, 2022 3:10 am
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lliyah says...



week eight


posted: 10/30/2022
lines: 19


"my great grandfather's farm was split clean between seven brothers; broken limbs from a single tree, and i believe that some places have fault lines that become engraved into your bones."

where we've been planted

in the summers my mother, sister, and i
would grow a vegetable garden in the community garden plot;
a plotted section of soil 12 by 12 feet,
and my mother would reminisce about her childhood
the sunburn, and the calloused fingers, the dizzy turns
through the cornfields, and learning to drive on a tractor
and the promise of harvest, all would become nostalgic
fairy tales we would hold on while covering tomato seeds,
and over-watering our tipping green beans;

the seed takes on what you give it; my mother would tell us
the soil, and the sun, and the water, and the love

and i would wonder if we too were seeds, absorbing nutrients
and wonder how far our roots stretched out -
if we listened close enough could my great grandfather's farmland
still be reached by stretching finger tips,
could my grandmother's hands reach through memory and time,
and create a flower garden from these uneven rows,

and was i planted here, along the river floodplains
or on the sun-turned fields that my mother still longed for.
you should know i am a time traveler &
there is no season as achingly temporary as now
but i have promised to return
  





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Gender: Female
Points: 137009
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Sat Nov 05, 2022 3:39 am
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lliyah says...



week nine


posted: 11/4/22
lines: 28


vegetable gardens and heirloom tomatoes

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you should know i am a time traveler &
there is no season as achingly temporary as now
but i have promised to return
  








No one is perfect; not even your reflection.
— Chalkboard Words