Thursday, May 01, 2008

Poem of the Week: My Grandfather's Shadow

My Grandfather's shadow has many faces
Some I have never seen
Loom darkly
In tales of times before my life was formed
Rage and rail at inner foes
Strike out at children he may have loved
But did not understand

My Grandfather's shadow has many faces
Which never smile
Which carry sadness in their eyes
For something lost or unremembered

My Grandfather's shadow
Would have cried, maybe, in other days
And not compressed his sorrow into balls of rage
Nor flung them indiscriminately at those he loved

My Grandfather's shadow has many faces
One of which loved me
As I him

- Katherine E. Rabenau


Akelamalu said...

That's a beautiful poem.

Dianne said...

A lovely poem Raven - complex and conflicted and touching

and the photograph is amazing, I say this each time - I really love old photos.

tt said...

ditto to the above posts! Grandfathers...ahhh...what a time they lived in..what experiences they had that made them the people we came to love...even if we didn't really know who they were. I love remembering. thanks!

Raven said...

Akelamalu - thank you.

dianne - you got it - I was the one of the only people not afraid of him and he liked me better than anybody else. He was such a sad unhappy man - and from all my mother told me, quite cruel to his children. I love old pictures too. I didn't do as good a job as I should, photographing the photo, but...

tt - my parents were born in 1910 so my grandparents really did live in profoundly different times.
Family relationships are so complex and sometimes so difficult, aren't they?

Anonymous said...

wow what a amazing poem:D

WH said...

The last three lines are so bittersweet ... and beautifully written. I love old photos, and I think they are the perfect subjects for stories or poems. Splendid work, Raven. This one is special.

Raven said...

anonymous - thank you for your kind words.

billy - Thank you billy. Hope your back is feeling better. I like that photo, though it isn't very reflective of the grandfather I knew and heard about. It's the cleaned up version of him... A wedding photo, I think.

Diane Vogel Ferri said...

A nice poem - I've been thinking about writing a grandfather poem too. Memories of grandparents are unique because they're mostly from a child's perspective.

Geraldine said...

This was very touching and thought-provoking Raven. I barely knew my maternal grandfather and my paternal grandfather died very young. I could relate to some of the lines you wrote though. Such a different era and mindset, raising and disciplining children. My father was also very strict, but I guess it comes down to the way he was also raised.

Quiet Paths said...

This honestly reflects the struggles men had from that generation and era. It was not always easy for either sex, certainly. Mine carried shadows around with them, but love was still there, which is important to hang onto as a memory.

Raven said...

diane vogel ferri - thanks for dropping by... good luck with your poem. I think the grandparent experience varies. My parents had me quite late in life so my grandparent experiences ended in my teens, but I know others who grandparent experience is lasting into their 30s and 40s.

hi geraldine - I didn't know any of my grandparents terribly well. My father's mother died six weeks after I was born and his father when I was 8. My mother's parents lived into my early teens.

quiet paths - I'm not sure the struggles change as much as the packages the come wrapped in. I do take hope in the belief that many parent I know these days are more self aware than mine were and certainly than my mother's parents were.