Wednesday, November 30, 2016

You Will Always Yearn



My granny’s granny was French
and so rich as a little girl 
she had servants to help her get dressed.
Her dad was a doctor 
and we think he got up to something shady
that got him kicked out of France
or sent him running from France.

Something happened – 
some blip in the family tree – 
and my granny’s granny wound up poor in Appalachia,
picking huckleberries in a snake-infested valley
with my granny
to make sure they had enough to eat.

Years later my granny remembered 
how sad she was to be there
and hear the church bells ring,
missing church – 
there was a boy she liked at church
and the sound of the church bells
as she picked berries in the valley
meant she wouldn't see him that day.

*

My granny’s mom had never seen a monkey – 
not a real one, in real life – 
and one time a circus came through town.
My granny’s dad was going to take them,
so her mom could see the monkey.
He told them to wait at the store,
that he would pick them up after work.

They waited. 
My granny roamed back and forth,
back and forth,
studying the candy for sale, memorizing it,
playing word games to keep from being bored.
Her dad never came to get them – 
he’d gone out drinking after work.
Her mom didn’t see a monkey that day.

*

The chimes traveled on the breeze, God’s music box.
The heat and cicadas shimmered. 
Sweat beaded on their foreheads and under their arms.
Snakes kept out of sight.
The chimes said:
“You will always want things.
You will always yearn.
This is the way of our people.
This is the fate you were born into.”

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