Friday, 19 November 2010

Kin

I was born into a very large Bristol family.  My mother was the eldest daughter of thirteen children, eleven of whom survived to go forth and multiply.  As a result, many of my earliest memories are of being surrounded by a throng of people who looked like me and sounded like me, but whose exact identities were lost in unholy confusion.  


My grandmother was the heart of our family; her modest Victorian villa the place to which we would all gravitate.  When she died at the age of 93, we realised that unless we all made an effort, we would lose that close family connection we'd always taken for granted.  And so we took to hiring a hall once a year, on the Saturday nearest her birthday, to throw a large, raucous party.


Yesterday was the 113th anniversary of my grandmother's birth; tomorrow we shall again flock to fill the genteel suburban avenues of Stoke Bishop with hail-fellow-well-mettery and hullabaloo.  This is a poem I wrote about our gathering, dedicated to my once and future kin:





Kin

Every November they gather together,
raggedy black with petroleum sheen
and sparks in their feathers.

Most live local,
drifting from suburbs like bonfire smoke,
although others hurl in from further afield,
storming up songlines,
until, like a genie freed from a lamp,
they swirl, and set the sky alight
with their crackling dance.

A parliament of starlings,
cacophonous cousins,
an argumentation of uncles and aunts!

Then one venerable elder
hunches his shoulders, opens his throat
and lets fly a hymn in notes
grown richer over years,
swelled by a hundred kindred voices,
all singing in different keys
their shared story.




Deborah Harvey © 2008, 2010



Kin will be published in my forthcoming poetry collection, Communion, due to be published next year by INdigo Dreams.



3 comments:

  1. My mother came from a similar-sized family, dirt poor and located smack dab in the middle of the country. She joined the navy to get as far away as possible, though she does go back once in a while for reunions.

    You can pick your friends, but with family you're stuck with potluck.

    Another enjoyable poem as always.

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  2. Hi Deborah (from FIL). This piece is warm and special. :)

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  3. Lovely poem, Deb. I like "an argumentation of uncles and aunts" particularly. xxx Jan

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