Love, Our Subject

A story poem I wrote a long time ago. #NationalPoetryMonth

Love, Our Subject

In the multitude of cells
now stretching and dividing
In my womb
I carry the genetic memories
of my grandmother, running
from her mountain cabin
in the snow
when her husband
confessed his infidelity.
Her shoes were not good;
the slush soaked through
and cold numbed her toes.
She walked back
and sat by the stove 
until spring.

Our child may inherit
her pretty white feet
and her knack
for jotting witty verse
about tiny purple wild flowers
and uncut green grass
in Sierra foothills.
She also penned
longer benedictions
to a freckled and brown-haired 
man in soft flannel shirts
for whom she washed sheets
and baked bread.

On stormy winter nights
as she wrote in her journal
he read Jefferson and Paine. 
He voted Democrat
and sent two sons to war
to fight for freedom
first against the Nazi threat
then the red menace.

When the first boy 
suffocated in a fire
in the sky above France
she cried alone 
in the bath tub
then emerged
to massage the graying temples
of her husband, 
the father,
whose suppressed tears
of sorrow
and guilt
poisoned eyes and sinuses
and made his head throb.

She never wrote the word
in her journal,
though she’d heard it often enough,
mentioned proudly
in eulogy
as they handed her the folded flag
that had draped
her first born’s coffin.
She kept the hand stitched banner
in her top drawer
under a black satin night gown
now too small
for sagging breasts.

Love was her subject
because love creates life
as solid as the dark ink
flowing from her pen
as sweet as the smell
of her bread baking
on a warm October afternoon
as tangible as a silver plane
forged by women
during the war
so heavy with potential joy
and sorrow,
who would believe
it could fly?

Photo by Leio McLaren at Unsplash

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