Will Blood Tell?
I can count the stories told about my father
on just one hand
and none of them have happy endings.
He broke my mother’s heart, her trust,
yet his blood runs in my veins.
I know the ways I am most like my mom
but what do I get from this man
I do not know?
As a child, every night after dinner,
my grandfather and I would play Go Fish
at the big dining room table.
I liked to straighten the cards into neat little piles
on Nana’s white lace tablecloth
while Papa chewed on a toothpick and
contemplated his next move.
The day he caught me cheating
he put the cards away
without saying a word.
All night long
he wouldn’t speak to me
and the shame I felt sat in my stomach
like a lead cannonball
until I cried myself to sleep.
For days afterward I wondered
what it meant that I would
jeopardize my grandfather’s trust
to cheat at a silly game of cards.
Even now, I find it hard to see the best in me
so when they say
blood will tell
the truth of evil
which cannot be concealed
I am frightened
of the sleeping monster I imagine that waits within me
the monster that makes me wonder
if I am more like my father
than I might want to know?
@copyright Susan Taylor Brown 2010
All Rights Reserved
Sometimes silence can be an effective teacher–as it was when your grandfather allowed you to think through the consequences of your actions. But in that silence, it seems you drew the wrong conclusions about YOU.
I refuse to think that our character traits are carried in our bloodlines. That “sins of the father” belief system? I reject it outright! And if this is more than a poem–if you truly believe there’s monster lurking inside you, some hereditary tendency toward evil–then I am deeply sorry, and sorrowful–because it’s simply not true. You are goodness, through and through. You are a Light against that darkness.
Please, I beg of you, don’t confuse your father’s story with yours. He chose his paragraphs, chapters and ending; you get to write your own.
Whew, there. I said it. Hmm, maybe too much. If I’m off-base in interpreting this poem–or if I’ve crossed over into unbidden territory, please feel free to delete this comment.
Melodye, thank you for speaking up. I am always so glad to hear your thoughts because I know they come with love from the heart.
As a child if I ever did anything wrong, came home late, forgot to do my homework, anything that could be construed as bad, I translated that in my child brain into the idea that I was bad and I was like my dad. I have mostly let that go but there are strands that cling still to the memories and that’s what I am exploring this month.
This month of poems will be filled, I am sure, with a lot of this, am I or am I not sort of wondering as I struggle to finally make peace and let go. At least that is my hope that at the end of the month, after 50+ years of carrying this junk around, that I can finally leave it all at the side of the road and move on.
I love you for caring for me so much. Thank you.
wow susan, the honesty in this is raw (not sure that is the right word)-thank you for sharing another piece of you.
Thanks for reading along with me, Deb.
Susan, God created each of us as individual. As we live and learn, it is up to us to create our path in life. You are Susan. It is up to you to go forward and what you can’t change leave in the past. Pain hurts more when we think of it too often. Now, put on that beautiful smile and laugh, and enjoy life, for life is too short. I care about you. Ok?
Thank you, Mary. I appreciate the virtual hug. And I always think too much.
I’ve only read the first 50 pages or so, but THE PRIVATE THOUGHTS OF AMELIA E. RYE might resonate with you.
Thanks, Mary Lee. I’ll check it out.
So interesting and a little heartbreaking. It seems this was not at all the lesson your card-playing grandfather intended to give. xo
No, most likely not. I have always spent too much time thinking and over-analyzing things. It took me a long time to let go it.
I am neither like my Mother or My Father.
In fact I don’t believe I am like anyone I know.
We become who we are through the obstacles we encounter through life.
Some people appear to sail through life without a problem.
Some may struggle just a little.
Others like me have to fight for their very existance.
So I don’t believe we are who we are through our parents or anyone, sure they can teach as things through life.
So can anyone you chance to meet as well.
You choose who and what you become.
As people keep telling me don’t dwell on the past.
Look forward to a beautiful and bright future with
whatever good things you have to hold in your heart.
You are doing just fine.
If I lived closer I would give you the hug you need.
A hug or a smile even if it be from a stranger always makes me feel better !!
– Anne McKenna
Thank you, Anne. I appreciate the thoughts and the hug.
Lies like to wear a jacket of truth, this is why sorting out the truth takes a long time. And I believe, along with prayer, writing poetry can help bring clarity to our thinking. So I encourage you to continue to write poetry throughout this month and beyond.
So, don’t be fooled by the wolf in sheep’s clothing, nor the sheep in wolf’s clothing.
As one Native American wrote (paraphrased): I have inside me a wolf and a sheep. The one that survives is the one I choose to feed.
all things poetry
Thank you, Laura. Poetry has been a way for me to clarify my thoughts for many years. Often I don’t know what I think or feel about something until I write the poem about it. I’m sure this month of poem-therapy will yield me many riches amongst the tears.
I absolutely loooooove this poem.
Susan, such a powerful poem reflected in this difficult memory. And yet, for me, the fact that you’ve written the poem and “spoken aloud” your deep down fear means the lie of that memory has lost its hold. The truth is, we are, none of us, perfect and – if we’re honest with ourselves – your small deceit is not at all unlike the kinds of things we *all* do at one time or another. Thanks for sharing your poem.
Thank you, Dianne.
Yes, this is what I am hoping, that by writing these poems I will be able to let go of much that has held onto me for way too long.
from Laura @ Author Amok
Susan, your poem is so powerful. You speak from the heart-space of a child and with honesty. Thank you for sharing this.
Re: from Laura @ Author Amok
Thank you, Laura.
Thank you Susan, for being truthful as always. Your poetry is a gift.
I can feel your little girl pain. But I also feel some healing coming on!
Thanks, Joyce. I think, I hope, the healing is coming.
Susan ~ what a beautifully honest & heart-wrenching poem. Shame stays with us and leaves its slimy sludgy self fastened to our souls. Writing about it helps wash it away. Could this be part of a new novel you’re working on? I hope so.
Thank you so much, Carol. And you’re right, with your beautifully poetic line “Shame stays with us and leaves its slimy sludgy self fastened to our souls”
I don’t know what I will end up with when I am done with this month of poems. I think the hard thing with this one will be that I am writing as an adult and I don’t know where this would land in an adult world. I don’t have enough grit (or name) for it to be a memoir.
I guess it will probably be just 30 days of poetry exercise….which is not necessarily a bad thing. 🙂
WILL BLOOD TELL
Blood keeps us alive
It runs through our veins
I don’t think it defines
What will become of us
At a much deeper level
It is life experience
Not necessarily learnt
From anyone in particular
As a child I was very unhappy
I only started to live, to love
After I had left my family home
Gained my independence
My freedom of choice
My happiness evolved
I turned into a new person
With a new beginning
I still had the same blood
Running through my veins
I could see a new horizon
I felt more accepted, more me
So will blood tell?
The answer for me is no
For others it may be different
I am me and only me
There is no other