Monday, April 07, 2008

NaPoWriMo #7: aunts

The prompt this week at Read Write Poem was "aunts". I had to think for a while about where I wanted to go with it. My mom and dad each have one sister and one brother. Both of those brothers have been married twice, so I've had a total of six aunts, all still living. My very favorite auntie, the one I felt closest to, was actually my mother's cousin Joan, who passed away about eight years ago from cancer. At first I tried to write about her, but was finding it hard to distill all my emotions and experiences, and some of them I had already written about in my poem "San Francisco Thrice" (she was with me on my first trip and was the one who took me on a shopping spree at Macy's).

Instead, I wrote about how Nancy, my father's brother's first wife, accidentally left something at our house after she and my uncle split up.


Aunt Nancy’s Paddle

For a few months when I was ten
Aunt Nancy and Carrie came to stay
I’d barely remember if not for
a souvenir left behind
seventeen thin inches of wood
painted with Nancy in fancy letters
and a red heart.

Too narrow for a trivet
its intended purpose
must have been decorative
but its ultimate practical use
was to grace
five recalcitrant posteriors
with sting of unyielding oak.

For years how we five
cursed the name of Nancy
parenthood and time
have softened the sting
tempered enmity with empathy
understanding
forgiveness.

Spare the rod, indeed.

7 comments:

christine said...

This poem is great! Grounding the story in specific details of a memory so personal...genius! No one else could write this poem but you.

After I read it I just had to go back and read it again. What a paddle!

gautami tripathy said...

I agree with Christine! Very personal!

wicked witch

reginaclarejane said...

Wow- this was wonderful... you've made this so incredibly relateable!
I wonder if your Aunt Nancy knew what it was being used for?
:)

Linda Jacobs said...

This is my favorite kind of poem! It tells the story in a simple but deep way. And your reading of it only adds to the enjoyment. Thanks!

jimmmaaa said...

Very nice. Good idea to post the reading of it. Great details that bring me there.

paisley said...

ouch!!! thanks a ot aunt nancy!!!!

...deb said...

Not being a mom, and having done some other kinds of paddling, I was totally caught by suprise, but a lovely one, even for the young grief it caused you.

Well done. I'll go back to your other aunt.

(I'm still working on my poem!)