Reflective

 

I never told you I loved you enough, the only ones
to whom it might have mattered and mattered much,
how could I? There are certain things one apprehends
only with age, the fact that most parents were
mere children themselves when they raised us up;

Now when I look back, I am able to glimpse humanity
more humbly instead of simply placing familiar labels,
Mom and Dad, great brazen fire-breathing dragons
of the household, both admired and feared
for their outsized demeanor, similar to the church God
I prayed daily would grant me safety and comfort
in place of the warm arms I yearned to fold myself
into, though dared never trust;

Even with busy single parenting, I was not able
to reflect upon the scope of the job, absorbed
as I was in all things survival to comprehend;
too enraptured in my own harried drama to sit back
and draw parallels, to reconcile present with past,
dissolving patterns and resolving conflict between
what was innate and what absorbed in the confusion
of a young woman’s developing brain;

If still alive, I would tell you today of impressions
large and small, from the sycamore tree
in our front yard I watched dad set into ground,
to books and music and mom’s patience
not with children, but of sewing
that beige corduroy suit; the no small wonder
at flopping pole-caught fish in our boat’s hold
ferried back to feed progeny, of pigeons flying home
to mounds of earth glistening with geraniums and ivy;
how both culture and soil seared themselves
in memory like the grooves of the records spun
in the cabinet, Benny Goodman and Tchaikovsky
in equal measure, while and I listed and fretted,
wishing instead for the beat of my own generation,
the sonorous thumping of my own fragile heart’s desire;

I get it. I am here to button my lip and smile discreetly
like the Kuan Yin herself, knowing bountiful paths
with easier courses lie just alongside
the more arduous ones my own girls are taking;
though to make life worth anything,
they are theirs for the making.

 

This poem was written recently with my longtime Renshi poetry sisters. Renshi is a form of linked poetry; the last line of one poem becomes the first of the next, and so on. Thus are topics revealed. Image is the street in front of the house I grew up in, two of my brothers in the frame.

27 comments on “Reflective”

  1. The circle game… nicely penned!

  2. Reblogged this on Ben Naga and commented:
    “Share this. OK” … (And I love it BTW)

  3. Excellent reflection on life as an parent and how that relates back to our parents as we were growing up. Our children will understand when they become parents themselves (or at least work with children).

    • Mahalo, Patrick. My own girls don’t plan on having kids for many good reasons, but most, I think, do. And it is really at that time when they are able to begin to understand the human sacrifice involved. Aloha, and thanks for your comment! ❤

  4. Agree with the previous comments. Lovely poem on how we are kids and then grow up, and the challenges of looking after those who are of a different age and generation. I like how you mention the thumping of a fragile heart…a heart can be fragile, yet that might be the time it makes me more aware and more alive than ever. Fascinating. You can’t control how you feel, and I suppose in these moments you have to go with what’s right when guiding others along the way.

    • Aloha, Mabel! Thank you, so glad you enjoyed reading 😉

      Yes, I would imagine for those who find it harder to soften the heart, it would seem desirable to be tender hearted. For me, it’s always been a double-edged kind of thing. I tear up when I least want to – reading my poetry in public is brutal that way, because it comes from such a deep place. I even choked up several times while doing 9 years of radio interviews, the topics were so dear to my heart! Very in touch with feelings, and you are correct, I cannot control that to make myself different, nor would I want to, aside from the occasional embarrassment.

      And I am quick to share affection for others, too – though I needed to gain emotional distance from my volatile parents, once I left home. I also lived thousands of miles away from family most of my life, not ‘because’ they were my family, but because they all chose to stay in a big city area of a crowded state which was not at all to my liking. Yet in hindsight though I visited when I could, I might have let them know, more than I did already, how what they did *right* impacted me in a positive sense. It reminds me of a poem my youngest daughter wrote years ago, reflecting on the emergence of a baby into the world and ending with the line, ‘Is anyone ever loved enough?’ I think we’d all be love sponges, if we could but trust in the source/s of that affection.
      Peace, Mabel. ❤

  5. Beautiful. Paused long here: absorbed
 as I was in all things survival to comprehend;

  6. I Think in hindsight when we all look back, we wish we could have expressed how we felt more.. And what our parents were guilty of in their lack of connecting with their children and neglect in telling us how they felt or cared.

    I often felt just as guilty in later years having been a working full time Mum as we juggled our children between us reversing rolls when work was scarce for my husband.. We pulled together.. At times regretting hours having to spent at work to help pay the mortgage. It was the way it was.. Both generations doing the best they knew how..

    We learn through our own experiences.. Even when we see the same records repeating with our own offspring. We learn to let them find their own path or alienate ourselves from theirs.. At least I am there as a grandparent.. Which was something my Mother never offered..

    It’s strange as we find old photo’s just what memories are evoked.

    Always your thoughts resonate deep Bela..
    Thank you for this poem..
    ❤ xxx

    • Sue, I think all patterns repeat – they certainly do in nature – so none of us ‘should’ be distressed that we repeated aspects of generations preceding. Only the hope is that the repetition is done whilst refining the strain, so to speak. In other words, I never doubted I was loved as a child, only it was confusing with all the violence and fear. In turn, my kids never doubted they were loved, and though I got vocal when I was stressed, I didn’t get violent or physical. Do I wish I had had the calm demeanor of, say, my husband? Or even my wiser self today? Sure. But whatever strand we came into evolve has gotten more refined, as a result of reflecting and being self aware. And that carries forward to my daughters who are very balanced, self aware people.

      My girls aren’t choosing to have children, and I totally respect that. They are both gifted healers and have dedicated their lives in one way or another in service to humanity. So I won’t get the grandparent part, which is also fine with me – plenty of kids to love in this world. We will both help support them in any way we can, moving forward – though we know they have to learn things their own way. When they first left home, well, I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know – it was so hard. And I was a free spirit kind of mom, not clingy at all. But oh! Like my heart was being ripped from my chest. Now it’s far better that way. So on we go, eh?

      I explained how the poem originated at the end of the post – through someone feeding me that first line, so it just flowed from there. But I don’t dwell on these things, as I’m in a good place with it. No regrets. Big hugs, Sue ❤ Thanks as always for your kind voice.

  7. It’s a bloody hard job, parenting, ill equipped as most of us are when first becoming one. It’s perhaps a strange quirk of evolution that as grandparents, or parents of a grand-parenting age (I hear you on your daughters’ decisions), it is for many of us only then that we’re best equipped psychologically to first raise children. Still, we all come to see in time that just as our parents’ failings can be forgiven, so too can our own as parents ourselves. It takes half a life to learn half of what there is to learn. H ❤

    • Ohhhh, you’ve hit the nail on the head, as per usual. “Half a life to learn half of what there is to learn” – no fooling.

      Agreed that parenting would best be done with the patience and hopeful wisdom of age, but there you go. The days when it took a village to raise a child are largely gone, though remain here in Hawaii. Then you’ve got some help for those clueless kids having kids, as grammy and gramps live right under the same roof. Now that would have driven me crazy, but here it works.

      Many blessings to you, dear Hariod! ❤

  8. Parenting is humbling, as is growing old. I loved this poem, Bela, it became more meaningful each time I read it…which was several times. Hope you are enjoying Australia. Take care.

    • You’re not kidding about both parenting and aging – yikes. Thanks for taking time to read the poem over and over until you gathered what meaning you might from it. We aren’t in AUS quite yet but very soon 😉 Aloha for now. Enjoy the rest of your week! 😀

  9. Parenting is a lovely learning experience Bela, an instinctive bonding tells us all about love and care. Yet we stumbled a thousand times and wish we could go back in time to change it. I think we were better placed than our parents who didn’t have so much exposure and had to depend on grandmotherly ways of handling children.

    ‘Mom and dad, fire-breathing monsters’ is such an apt metaphor for the parents of bygone era. I feel they didn’t know any better way of discipling, they believed that too much love could spoil children and they had a number of children to raise besides household chores.

    I liked your candid reflections. Thanks for sharing. Have a wonderful weekend.

    • Yes, parenting is definitely that – a lovely learning experience! If one were disinclined to embrace unconditional love in this life, it’s surely the best possible opportunity to do so. I agree we were in a better place than our parents, given generational challenges.

      Thanks as ever for your own observations and for always contributing so kindly to this blog. Enjoy your weekend as well, dear one ❤

  10. So much I can identify with in your words…now that I have more time on my hands to reflect, I am able to look upon my parents with more kindness than I did while growing up. I remember how arrogant I must have seemed when I was a new mum..Nothing my mum recommended was good enough for my son. At least I am able to laugh at my younger self now. So glad my mum has had the patience to bear with me. I think your parents would have known you would one day come to this realisation, or that’s what I’d like to think.xx

    • Aloha, and thanks for adding your valuable voice to the conversation here. Yes, my mom was 3500 miles away when I was raising my girls. She was pretty hands-off though, not a real kid person. She was great about keeping in touch however, and we would visit every few years. It’s cool that your own mother hung in there with you.

      I don’t know why some of us don’t listen to the voices of our elders, if it’s a generational thing or simply that Western women began claiming their own voices and value and anytime there’s a collective shift of that magnitude, it seems things spill over a bit before they settle back down.

      You are kind to say my parents would have known I would one day appreciate the upside of having them raise me – I did tell them several times how I had learned things that I valued much more later on – how I had perceived this learning when young and how those perceptions shifted to a more postive light later on. But you know, it’s like the line my youngest ended a poem with years ago, “Who is ever loved enough?” There is always more one could have expressed in the way of appreciation, it seems. Anyhow, many thanks, and hope you enjoy your weekend! ❤

  11. Beautifully written!! Lovely

    • Aloha Natasha – and thank you so much for taking a moment to respond to this post. Thanks for the follow as well – hope you find further things of interest here, and I’ll be sure and check out your own blog once we’re home – on vacation just now. Be well, Bela

  12. I love the flow of this Bela. There is a rhythm in this stream of poetic words 💛

  13. Like the new look of your site and took me a minute to figure out where all of your posts are but very nice as is the above post.


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