As I sat on the C train headed uptown to a meeting, I was thinking about Samuel, thinking about today’s Poetic Asides prompt, which is to write a looking back poem. As soon as I saw that prompt, I thought of Samuel, and that I needed to write a Samuel poem today. For those who don’t know — which should surely be just about everyone, Samuel is my great grandfather, my mother’s father’s father. Just over a year ago, I was in Cincinnati in the genealogy research library at the Underground Railroad Museum when I found Samuel and a slew of other relatives. Samuel resonated with me in a way I would can’t explain and would not have believed possible. Finding him has inspired a research project and story cycle that I’m beginning to find my way through. And last April I wrote a number of poems about Samuel and the fact of finding him and what that felt like.
So I was sitting on the C train, I looked up and saw a young woman standing in front of me, clutching a book against her chest. The back of the book was facing me, and the first thing I saw was, ” Discovering your true self through the power of your ancestors.” Right. A looking back poem. Of course.
Samuel is carrying me. Through his history, my imagination, my dreams. Slowly and more slowly, shining his light so I may see. I am reaching back, and reaching back, and reaching back. Samuel, my Virgil, translating sign posts, never losing sight of the way home. Whatever I am hoping to find, it cannot be greater than this, than the resonance of Samuel, the void he has blossomed to fill. I let him carry me, let him choose the path. All he asks is that I stay awake, that I watch and listen, that I remember.
As I did last year, I’ll be following along with the Poem-A-Day challenge at Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides Blog. Today’s prompt is to write a “looking back” poem. You can post your daily poems on Brewer’s page. The top poem from each day will be included in an anthology later this year!
Are you writing poems this month? Where can I see them?
Let’s share this craziness!