Tradition

The left-over turkey is lodged a thousand miles

from here in the refrigerator of the house that my

son and his girlfriend bought back in June, to the

delight of both sets of parents, anticipating as we did

that something momentous would soon follow,

like an engagement or a wedding.

But we are boomers, that odd generation spawned

when the appearance of global peace beguiled our

parents into reproducing in record numbers; rather

like rabbits, some might say, as though a house full

of kids could stabilize the psychic careen wrought by

Part Two of the World War.

We grew up on a thick stew of things they didn’t have;

straight teeth and television, finished basements, electric

dryers, air conditioning, telephones with extension cords,

second cars and possibility, and yet there was so much

of the hows and whys of their lives that we didn’t want

them to pass along to us.

We took on neighborliness, but not the concern for what

they thought of us or the worry over who they were. We

honored faith, but church was not our axis, and the

sanctity of place was lost on us as we moved far enough to

keep their traditions from influencing our creation of what

we thought were better ways.

Little did we know that in teaching our children to think

like us we also taught them distance and difference, and they

choose not to marry like us or settle like us, or hold their ends

of the cord like us, the one that goes all the way back to Eden

and runs us all through, and God knows, I have prayed that

their rebellion would be a tighter grip.

I didn’t call my Father on Thanksgiving. Perhaps it’s not too late.

© Dana Hughes 11.29.16

One thought on “Tradition

  1. Once again, I love this. And once again, it seems a bit of a departure from earlier poems. It seems each poem of yours is a new adventure these days. There is a continuity of style–your compound sentences piling images onto one another like clothes tossed out of a closet in search of that perfect pair of slacks–but there is also a rumination or maybe even a ruefulness that I haven’t noticed as much until lately. Maybe it’s the season we are suffering through, but I have the sense that you are assessing your life–our lives–and the verdict is darker than expected. The diction here is so frank, so direct, almost prosaic–again, different from the playful ironies I have read in your work. It fits here, wonderfully, as though you were sitting across the table or on the other end of the line and reflecting on the weekend and what went well or badly. It isn’t strictly rhythmic, but there is the promise of a rhythm that never quite works out–almost like the sense of of our elders and our own disappointed expectations, and perhaps the awareness that we are all disappointments and perhaps also points of pride to those who raised us. All matter-of-factly expressed and emotionally understated, not unlike the strict sestet structure with the foreshortened final line, as if to say that, however topsy-turvy the world, some things don’t change. It’s Tuesday after Thanksgiving, and the world is still moving on….

    Thanks, Dana, for reminding us of who we are and where we came from.

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