I read Ms. Berger's poem Why I'm Here here and was struck by it. A long time ago a meme went around with a different poem related to family history and I did two versions of that here and here. Today, for another National Poetry Month entry, I give my take on Why I'm Here.
Because my mother was comfortable with his family
in a way she wasn't at home.
And because, years earlier,
my father's much older brother married
mom's youngest aunt.
In the blended family gatherings
they found themselves
two quiet people overshadowed
by the ones larger than life.
I'm here because my mother couldn't conceive.
She'd read parenting books since she was a dreamy teenager,
rather than those silly fan magazines
And because my father was willing to adopt,
said he wanted to be a good dad.
I'm here because some social worker decided
this couple would be fit parents in their
little third floor apartment
overlooking a cemetery.
I'm here because a college student
lost her boyfriend,
took comfort in the arms of a married man who
pretended to not recognize her when
her belly swelled with me.
Because there was a lawyer
in her Quaker meeting house
who had a colleague whose brother's wife
The rest of the reasons are long gone.
One decides to dress, and go on
with the shopping, and cooking, and cleaning.
One decides to go to work at the lab,
juggle test tubes and powders
to press into cakes so someone else can sell them.
One decides to dance away her sadness
so her dance floor gyrations
pulse along the floor,
shimmy up the pants leg,
and tickle the fancy of a man
his wife and kids.
And he decides to alleviate his boredom with a shapely redhead.
I'm here because German Protestants
were persecuted and left home
for a place where a Quaker founder
sympathized and promised refuge.
Because some Greek family decided
they were better off in America
than among whatever ruins they left.
It's good to treasure the gift, but good
to see that it wasn't really meant for you.
The feeling that it couldn't have been otherwise
is just a feeling. My family
gathers around long tables at Thanksgiving,
I've taken over making the baked pineapple
and chocolate nut cookies my grandmothers used to make.
I wish I could ask them how much butter,
how hot the oven
though I know how much, how hot.
We've been sitting at these same tables for years
so I believe we will go on forever.
It's right to give thanks for the random,
the unlikely probability that each of us should be here,
if not the meaning, the feeling, the changing air
as seasons pass,
that Spring, when it comes,
I invite you to tell me either in comments or your own post, why are you here?