This is the room where I write. All of my writing is personal, but this post is without a doubt the most personal thing I’ve ever shared.
My writing space is filled with special things, including a print of a Keane painting my grandmother bought for my great-grandmother (Mema) when she went to New York in the 1960s. In her 99 years, Mema outlived all her brothers, sisters, husband, and both of her children. She once told me she thought God forgot about her. On March 19th, 2004, what would have been her 100th birthday, I wrote this poem for her:
On Mema’s hundredth birthday, I went to London.
I rose above the bleak Kansas farm town she was confined to
In a two-bedroom house where her only vacations
Were to a tomato garden in the backyard and Dillon’s Grocery every Saturday.
I remember the painting on the old beige wall
Of a little blonde girl in a yellow dress
And big, sad brown eyes.
In her haziest years, Mema insisted it was a portrait.
I wore the wedding band that made her stay
For sixty-some years in a place where
Her lonely tears never touched her cheek
But collected in the flask in her husband’s jacket pocket.
She longed to take off that ring with her white gloves on Sunday.
She yearned to soar through the clouds over that checkerboard state.
Her restless-angel blood tornadoes inside me.
On Mema’s hundredth birthday, I set us free.