Monday Morning Musings:
“There is a certain part of all of us that lives outside of time. Perhaps we become aware of our age only at exceptional moments and most of the time we are ageless.”
Art and music travel through our genes, stopping at some destinations longer than at others, like the train our older daughter takes from Washington, D.C. after visiting archives at the Smithsonian. She takes hundreds of photos of sketch books, correspondence, diaries, and newspaper clippings of our artist ancestor, Abraham Hankins. She shows me newspaper articles—how his mapmaking skills saved his life in France during WWI because he was left behind to draw maps when the rest of his unit was sent into battle and killed. He also trained as a singer, until gassed during the war, and apparently, he wrote some poetry, too. But my daughter becomes even more fascinated by his French wife Estelle, called Esther by my family. After Abe’s death, Estelle makes it her mission to get her late husband’s work into major museums. There is still much to learn, and most of the people who lived then are gone. It is my mom’s ninety-sixth birthday.
skipping stones hit pond
concentric circles ripple
spring turns to summer
Abraham P. Hankins,
Pocket Full of Dreams,
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Bequest of Mrs. Abraham Peter Hankins
We celebrate my mom’s birthday in sunshine with shades
munch on snacks, laughter cascades
as we discuss pets and art and politics
with eyes rolling—intermixed–
as my niece describes her “other family,” with their alternate truth—
if only we could blame it on the folly of youth—
but salacious tales about the Clinton’s gleaned from right-wing memes,
treasure troves of garbage carried by the false fact streams
they insist it’s true,
what does one do?
We move on to sandwiches and cake
blow out the candles, make
each moment count, and we laugh, dance, and sing—
it’s in our genes, so let’s bring
it on in celebration of familial love
rock the ghosts from rafters above
and around, perhaps they watch from some place–
that shadow there, across your face.
The weekend is full with movies, puppies, and wine
we dance, laugh, eat, drink—feeling fine
My mom tells us that Abe asked her mother to sing with him at a family gathering. She says her mother had a beautiful voice, but that my uncle, my mom’s baby brother, cried when their mother sang, so she stopped singing. I had forgotten, she says, but now I remember some of those songs she taught me. Songs of the shtetl that crossed the ocean. We, the grandchildren never learned the songs. I like to think though that no song is ever lost. Each note rises. Birds carry some, and others float high into the sky filling the clouds. I think that is why I hear music in the rain, and why rainbows sing, and the moon hums. We are filled with star music, and it returns again and again to us. Music flits like spindrift from the waves of time.
Stars sail ink-black seas,
cat against me softly snores,
dreams dance to moon song