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Posts Tagged ‘legacy’

     for Janet Kaye Schoeberlein, March 26, 1930-Dec. 28, 2021

When I was fourteen, Jan gave me her flannel nightgowns,
the long white ones with tiny blue flowers
that I had admired on her for years.
When I wore them, I wore
the classical music always playing
in the background in her home.
I wore the high tilting treble of her voice
as she sang around the campfire.
I wore her world class hiccups that always
seemed to arrive when she didn’t approve
of what was about to happen.
I wore desert river adventures
and trips to the theater downtown
and dinners with foods I’d never tried before.
And though I didn’t know it then,
I wore the past of her childhood in Germany,
and her memory of how she graduated law school
as the only woman in her class.
I wore her willingness to raise her young nephew
and her joy in raising her daughter
and the way she always said my name
as if I were a south American flower.
Those nightgowns, I took their shape,
loved the way their soft cloth swirled
around my body, wrapping me in eccentricity.
I still wear the other hand me downs she gave me—
Curiosity. Independence. Individuality.
Because she was so herself,
she taught me I could trust myself to be me.
She was the queen of oddness,
a model of uniqueness,
an archetype of being true.
To this day I feel these qualities
swirl around me, too—
the comfort of her integrity
the warmth of her generosity,
the way Jan was so very, very Jan.

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Missing My Father



When you miss him, look inside.
            —Deb Stevens, private correspondence


Today when I miss my father,
I hear him in my voice when I say,
You’ll go broke saving money.
I feel his tenderness in the way
I hold my own daughter’s hand.
His laugh blooms inside my laugh
when I giggle hee hee hee.
Here he is, ever inside me.
Returning home from his death,
I feel transformed,
or is it I feel more me—
the me he helped to shape
with his life, the me
he is fashioning with his death,
the me I’m still learning how to be.

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Every morning when I was a girl

my mother would wake me

with song, the same lilting lyric

every dawn,

 

It’s going to be such a lovely day,

good morning, good morning I say.

 

It sounds too grand

to call it ceremony,

and she would have appeared

an unlikely celebrant

in her bathrobe and slippers,

but she infused

this daily ritual with prayer

 

and to this day I wake

certain that the world

will have beauty in it

and certain that I will find it—

this the most beautiful gift

any mother could give.

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            recite this aloud, please, for Mimi, for Vivi, for me

 

 

 

Mama, she says,

can we waltz?

and we do,

we step one

two, three, one,

two three cross-

ing the room,

and again

I am five

and my grand-

ma and I

are alone

in the house

and my feet

are on hers

and we’re danc-

ing around

and she hums

with the ra-

dio, hums

with low light,

and we waltz,

and we waltz

there’s a blaze

in her eyes

as we one,

two three, oh

how I miss

her tonight.

 

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