June 6, 2013

Remnants of "Sanctuary"

"One Less for Tea" - Spilling over with names of those we loved.

I had the pleasure of bringing my high school art students to see the 100 Pearl Street exhibit.  I first let them browse the gallery to absorb the images, then answered any questions about the artworks.  I relayed the personal stories that inspired each piece.  The students then did a writing workshop prompted by one of my colleagues.  Here is one of the poems that came from their encounter with "Sanctuary".  I will feature more in another post, their writing was so amazing! (forgive the length for a blog, it's worth it!).


My mother and grandmother would spend afternoons drinking tea.
To me it was like an unwritten rite of passage
The day I liked tea I would be older.
The day I choose to sit around a table with teacups,
I would grow up.

My grandfather had never grown up
He would only enter the kitchen
to steal the cookies hidden in the drawer.
We, the grandchildren, would follow his lead,
stay inside only long enough to grab a snack;
We never touched the tea.

Instead we lived in the magical world of the backyard,
climbed trees with his arms ready to catch us.
When rain forced us inside, he would teach us card games,
and count pennies for rolls he would split between us.

But i was a child never satisfied with now,
always trying to grow up.
At twelve I decided I was too old to play.
I would refuse to go outside with my grandfather,
instead I would join the "adults" for tea.

Back then I didn't like tea,
I didn't have much to add to the conversation.
I would sip water and listen as the chatter went everywhere
and nowhere.
Until one day when my grandfather's name came onto my grandmother's lips.
It was the first of many times I saw her nervous,
she talked about him not eating, growing pale and weak
she talked about being afraid of this sudden sickness
of it drawing life out of him

I didn't want to hear it,
begged to go back to talking about gas prices and book stores,
pretended to want to hear about something "more interesting."
But soon it became the only thing to talk about.
The tea ended, and so did Grandpa's trips to the backyard.
And my grandfather grew old,
Not the kind of old that drinks tea,
But the kind of old that can't find any reason for living.
the spirit of a child gone from his eyes,
We lost him all too quickly.

Now, on Sundays years later,
my grandmother pours some lonely cups of tea.
Her hand still shakes but no one notices anymore.
she's like a shattered cup
whose pieces never quite fit back together
And once a week, both of us,
Now older, now old enough,
share a quiet cup of tea.

(thank you, Colleen, you've touched my heart).


"Touchstone" tendrils wrapped for storage