Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Family She Built

The Family She Built

My grandmother told me
"Anak, I don't have anything
to leave you
If tomorrow
death comes
to take me,
All I can give
Is the knowing
My good family
will live
Long after me."

See, she built this family
Foundation, up
She used her hands,
Her heart, her will
To fill
The lives of her children
And their children and theirs
With so much joy
And overwhelming
That carried our bloodline
Over Pacific Ocean currents
No matter which way
The tides took us
She taught us to find home
In each other

The callusus and growths on
My grandmother's hands
Are the markings
Of a master seamstress
Sewing endless hems and linings
That clothed children
From mainland and island
And sewing seeds
To grow greens
To clothe her own children from
The little she was paid
For long hours she stayed
Needle to thumb
Thimbled numb
She counted few dollars
And count many working hours
For the many mouths and hearts
She fed
Who counted on her

She moved with
the movements
Of birth giving,
13 grandchildren
Into her arms and care
She lived for us
And the little girl who she
Spent most of her living with
Could not help but cling to her

She would sit me beside her
In kitchen
To watched her
With waves of her hands
No measurement
Just memory and mastery
I was meserized
As she sizzled and baked
And boiled and deep fried
To not only nourish us
But make us come back
For more
For our fill
For she fed us
Her love and her warmth
She cooked to perfection
And she passed down
This magic
Giving all of self
In all you do and all you say
All you cook
She showed me the way

And to this day
Granddaughter creeps to
Mama's bedroom
Where she curls into her bosom
And her heart beat holds her
She still looks to her
Sinking into the gentle blue lining
Around her deep brown eyes
"That's my wisdom"
She told her
Like the whites
atop her head
"That's my wisdom"
She told her

She taught her
The greatest wisdoms
She knew-
Of kindness
And generosity
And gratitude.

This is what she built
This family from
And linked us together
With everlasting love
And today she reminds me
In our moment of parting that
With no material gifts
To leave me
She'd leave me
With something else so great
The happiness in knowing
That our family
This family she built
Is a good one

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