Monday, February 25, 2008

The History At Home | Snapshot 3

metal scrapping brick
announced Aunt Selma.

my mother’s careful
origami face. unfolds.
paper bag long fingers

flattens offenders:
her curled apron lace,
my hair, my brother.

as if glass brick spectacles
see humans inhabiting
their unruly bodies

or shelter spaces.
as if she attended to inspect
my mother’s housekeeping

skills. she desired -
passionate, haphazard
airborne ink from a preteen

and then cocktails
I served, even falling

over my feet,
never spilt a drop.

NOTE: I wanted to pick up on a thread woven during my interview with Christiane D. Leach. I'm returning to Aunt Selma who - according to my Dad - was an articulate hell raiser. All of her online biographies make her out this dry accomplished lady who is only noteworthy for the bust on the dime

As an eager to please child, I struggled to comply to my parent wishes. I squirmed, squealed and writhed through piano practice. In spite of my strong desire to please, I could never overcome the fact that our living room - with its lovely beamed ceilings and expansive fireplace - was the home of evil. A horrible entity who lurked behind me while I was forced to practice the piano.

It was so bad, that if the living room dorrs were open, I would run frantically past the open door and up the stairs. Daily, dutifully, I cringed with curled fingers and my prickling back exposed to the hub of the Evil-Energy. I would play minuet. From the corners of my eyes, dancers from anotherera explored their complex choreography. They terrified me...these happy, satin frocked ghost dancers. Eventually, I would rather pee myself, than sit and practice the piano. Finally, my parents gave up on my musical ability.

Long after my parents gave up hope on me as a musician, they bought a small bronze statue by Aunt Selma. They placed this strong metal woman - arms covering her head, obviously buffeting an inner storm - in the perfect place. They in the haunted living room, overlooking the piano.

But, that statute improved our lives. It kept the living room ghosts at bay. I never had to run through the foyer again. I loved Aunt Selma!

But, I appreciate these memories of her more. Tonight, researching this post, I called my Dad to yell at him. (more like whine at him.) I say, “Hi Dad, I’m calling to scream at you because you never told me Aunt Selma was married to Claude McKay.”

“Well, dear, I never thought it was important,” he said.

“But, Dad, she always wanted to hear my stupid ramblings from my journal and then I had to get out of my mind and do dance classes at the Selma Burke Art Center. She was so awesome!

“Yes, she was an articulate hell-raiser. And I’m glad you had that relationship with her.......Never knew that the two of you interacted that way.”

“But, she was married to Claude MCKay!!!!!”

“So, what” says my Dad. “She loved you. You loved her. Are you defined by who you’ve loved? No! This was a woman, " he continues, “who remembered your grandmother from some uptown Harlem Renaissance party 40 years after she moved to Pittsburgh. There she was at one of your mother’s parties and there was your grandmother....

and Aunt Selma said, “Hello, hell-raiser! Didn’t we meet in up at so-an-so’s party in Harlem in 1920 something?“

and your grandmother said, “Yes! You remember me!?!”

and Aunt Selma says, “I’ve been waiting so many years to have lunch with you!”

CLICK! Here is what the snapshot says to me. Here was a woman who valued sisterhood and comraderie. A woman who remembered her allies even after never seeing them for over 40 years. A woman generous enough to nurture immature talent. These are the things I used to take for granted.


Anonymous said...

Reading your wanting "to pick up on a thread woven during my interview with Christiane D. Leach..."

I wonder (dutifully) if that interview is either a or b.
a) to be
b) already

... transcribed.

My skills can and do aid writers in their craft.


Christina Springer said...

Thanks Alan. Today I learned 2 things. 1. Never publish a post after two glasses of wine and in a fever pitch to "make some imaginary deadline." and 2. you can take the prose out of a poet, but, it's harder to take the poet out of the prose.

So, in answer to your question. The post directly below this one was the interview with Christiane Leach. I had made the dreadful mistake of assuming that readers had been following along.

Thanks for bringing this to my attention and helping me grow.