Monday, April 26, 2010

Buried there like mushrooms

Once upon a time while I was beginning graduate school, I started an epic. It was roughly around the same time that I started this blog and was written toward the same end: to teach me to listen to the voice of Grace after years of allowing different voices to narrate my life. It was an entirely unpublishable combination of Christianity, pop psychology, and the epic tradition with absolutely no audience but the author, but I had fun with it.

I only got about 400 lines into it before grad school ran away with my brain, and no doubt by the time it is returned I will have other ambitious projects to accomplish, and it will forever remain just a prologue (which I included in a post once before) and 1.1 cantos.

But toward the beginning of that first canto I included my three earliest memories, which all involve my mother: trying (unsuccessfully) to eat dog food discretely without her noticing, coloring on the wall in an altruistic attempt to fill in a place where a painted mural had chipped and being spanked for it, and going through paper after paper in a vain attempt to draw a smile until she discovered me and my pile of frowny-faces and taught me to follow the curve of the chin.

It is an interesting conglomeration of memories: a young woman and her toddler winding their way through mischief, misunderstanding, and love. My mother was the eighth child of Polish and Czechoslovakian immigrants who had learned English from scratch and taught it to their nine children, and she took on the adventure of learning a life of Faith from scratch while teaching it to her four children. This past weekend as that young woman turned 53 and her toddler is roughly the age the mother was in the dawn of my memories, I find myself grateful for that young woman and her quest to nurture four children’s faith from conception to adulthood, and grateful to Love who consumed them all along the way.

This one’s for you, Mom. I love you.

From Grace Regained, Canto 1, lines 33-112

...So Fascination was her founding friend
And wed itself to every future trend.
Ambition grew as Wonder’s alibi
Beyond the corner of her mother’s eye
Where dog-food was a myst’ry unexplored,
And Cheerios were bland until they poured
Across the kitchen, where cherubic hands
Would gather them like well-shot rubber bands
Where they were strewn, before the muraled wall
On which a lake, electric blue, would call,
“Invade the drywall paint, and touch the pine
Trees’ vibrant green, and promenade the line
Of cartoon mountain ridges—beauty’s found
Within adventure.” But one day a round,
Endented hole transgressed her singing lake
With drywall white unsuited for its make,
Exposing vuln’rability of yea
The greatest craftsmanship, whose plight one day
Inspired a stroke of brilliance in her brain,
Unsettled by the awkward, whited stain—
For had she not a marker of that hue
That may disguise disruption of the blue?
But with dismay she found her instrument
Was insufficient to disguise the dent,
Though it was made more subtle now (she prayed)
Due to the scope of her Crayola aid.
And halfway satisfied she walked away
Partaking in diversions of the day
Until a castigating voice compelled
Her back under reproach, where she beheld
Her craftsmanship with helpless shame, the scorn
Of her she longed to please. Her heart more torn
To be considered bad than by the blows
Received, she fled for refuge where her toes
Could feel the grass, and there she saw her dad,
Yet unaware of the office she had
Committed. How she longed to meet his smile
A worthy daughter, to conceal a while
Her careless shame! So sing, O Muse, across
The mem’ry fields oppressed by concrete dross.
Proclaim thine all-sufficiency of care
To favor-craving frail ones, failing where
They long to please; proclaim forgiveness to
The child her mother, built with stronger glue,
Who read herself into her daughter’s eyes
That bore resemblance, and assumed her cries
Were from a fiery will. Forgive the two
Who hurt themselves; they know not what they do.

For thine inclusive eyes had seen the days
The child devoured paper in the maze
Of art, unable to compose a simple smile
Until her mother came and saw the pile
Of sad, discarded frowns of she who threw
Out too much paper, but whose mother knew
The mystery of teaching hands to see
And eyes to draw and will to bend its knee
Enough to parallel the present curve
She had emblazoned there with gallish nerve.
Thou saw’st the unencumbered, raw delight
The girl extracted in her mother’s sight
Because her casual discovery
Upon the deck of broom and energy
To save her mother of the chore bore fruits
Of giddy joy of bringing joy that suits
A munchkin dressed in Love. For Love it was
That strapped the kids on bikes the way it does
The fam’ly to each other, Love that blew
Upon them like Chicago wind; and through
The dampened corners of the forest, Love
Was buried there like mushrooms, treasures of
The eyes that stopped to look, of fingers who
Could bear a little dirt to probe into
The mossy corners and to gather gems
Of fungus into wicker baskets, stems
And all; Love the second language which
Her parents’ nimble fingers learned to stitch
Together fluently enough to speak
It in the home, just as the strongly meek
Bohem’an immigrants with English one
Short generation earlier had done.

1 comment:

Christian H said...

I'm not sure that the verse epic is a marketable genre these days. That being said, if you manage to awaken the public thrist for it, I'd be greatly indebted, because then I'd have reason to try my own.

(I suppose I don't need marketability, really, before I start one, but for a project that long, it sure would help. Props to you for even starting one.)