La Famiglia


Mom would have done well as an underworld figure,
sticking the steel into some poor bastard
then doing the perp walk holding a Le Creuset enameled cast iron skillet in front of her face.

There is something to be said for always seething with petty resentments--
it keeps a girl from going lazy,
idling away the hours wandering the arboreal colonnade
with a peach in one hand and a bible in the other.

Better  to brood under a starved star and crescent moon
bad-tempered as a sick camel,
rooting out infidels from the shadows and making them bow to the east.
After all, what's family for?

Then again, we all have our foolish hour and faint notion,
stumbling along in silver slippers,
carrying the quilled bowling ball handed us by our elders and betters.

Mom, she never believed for one minute in butterball sunshine and rock candy mountains.
She harbored a crow scrabbling just beneath her heart,
telling her quite sensibly to kill that child and kill it quick,
just like she learned at her own mother's knee.

Grandma wore ice boots,
Grandpa had no tongue and a nail through his eye.
Into the world they sent their girl to birth a scapegoat upon an altar
built from fear and silence,
the perfect place to start a family of her own.
______

for Sunday Muse #93, using the word list below for Skylover Word List.

Image at top is Ruby Cruz as teenage Annie Wilkes in "Castelrock." 

And finally, some music to read poetry by.

Comments

qbit said…
Amazing, as always. And this --

Better to brood under a starved star and crescent moon
bad-tempered as a sick camel,
rooting out infidels from the shadows and making them bow to the east.
After all, what's family for?
Kerry O'Connor said…
it keeps a girl from going lazy,
idling away the hours wandering the arboreal colonnade
with a peach in one hand and a bible in the other.

I love this contrasting image you created in the middle of the poem, which makes excellent work of the darker word choices in my list. I found the portrait of the grandparents even more disturbing than that of the mother and by the conclusion am left wondering if there is a single generation which might escape the shackles of its forebears.
Carrie Van Horn said…
I love every line of this Shay. To live it and then live to tell...you certainly have broken the chain as they say, but that last stanza really holds it up for all to see for me. That is always how it begins...with closed eyes and a mouth not willing to say what needs to be said. You are amazing in so many ways! You speak what needs to be said so wonderfully!!!
Jim said…
So interesting to read and chew on my own images that you invoked. I loved reading the grandparents, "Grandma wore ice boots, Grandpa had no tongue and a nail through his eye."
My grandparents were nice though Grandpa was rough in most ways. I felt I was his favorite. Mom thought I was more than I was but Dad was mean with me. He was unforgivable but he never asked for that nor did he apologize.
..
Sherry Blue Sky said…
Childhood as only you can write it. It is a miracle any of us survive. Your descriptions are always so unexpected - and perfect! The perk walk with the Le Crueset skillet made me smile. The grandparents made me shiver. Wow. An amazement of a poem.
hedgewitch said…
First of all, your header pic jumped right into my face( in the best way )--great pairing of an image with message. The first two stanzas are bitter, but wry, like an opening vignette suitable for all ages, but then the poem steadily gets darker, as you start firing off your arsenal of shattering metaphors and deeply dark images for mature audiences only. With your third stanza with its 'foolish hour and faint notion' you begin to use the word list in such a way that it seems each one is inevitable, and you get to a place where almost every single line digs a deeper scratch into the veneer of a relationship where the closer you get, the more it reeks. Then, you seal it all with the generational curse of the last verse. One of your best, Shay, one that is far and away over the bar and into interstellar space--incredible to think you whipped this out in just a few short hours!
Brendan said…
What's family for, indeed, with shivs so poised and sharp?
tonispencer said…
This poem certainly brings your mother to the front of the family portrait. I am so sorry you were raised by such a person but it is good you escaped with heart intact.
Susan said…
Damn! Literally:
"She harbored a crow scrabbling just beneath her heart,
telling her quite sensibly to kill that child and kill it quick,
just like she learned at her own mother's knee. . . ." We have so much to accept or to fight against, handed to us with bowling and bibles and peaches. I feel for mothers. I have never tried it myself, for which some daiughter like me might have been eternally grateful.
Truedessa said…
Then again, we all have our foolish hour and faint notion,

I think we all have played the fool at some point in our lives believing things will get better but, they never really do.

You have captured the darkness of learning young life isn't a picnic.

I think you have a strong spirit to have weathered the storms of growing up.
Wow! You always surprise and never disappoint.
Sumana Roy said…
"Mom, she never believed for one minute in butterball sunshine and rock candy mountains."-- Had she believed darkness would have been much less for the child. Oh!----The last stanza breaks the heart and explains everything.
C. Sandlin said…
There is only amazement in reading this; the imagery is sharp and dark and pins one to the page.
Sioux Roslawski said…
Nature vs. nurture. From the pieces you've written, there was little "nurture" and obviously, you've broken the chain.

What a stunning poem (that left my mouth gaping at times).
Mama Zen said…
Freaking wow. That second stanza slits throats.
The image of walking with a peach in one hand and a bible in the other, mean as a sick, bad-tempered camel, and those crows scrabbling in your mother’s heart . .. I just don’t know where to stop. Amazing writing as always.
Jennifer Wagner said…
This made me feel like crying. "Mom" is not the right name for a person with this type of darkness. So truly evident how things get passed on from one generation to the next. Poignant, sharp writing.

P.S. You changed up your blog since I last visited. Looks snazzy!

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