Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day Ponderings

Saturday is my day to gallery sit and in between visitors I started reading Contemporary Quilt Art: An Introduction and Guide by Kate Lenkowsky.  I also worked on more paper quilts. 
 
 
I started the one below when I got back into my studio.  The writing is in 3-d paint which I left to completely dry before I fill in with more colour.


The paper I'm using is khadi paper, a rag paper made in India.  I've had it for at least a year and can't recall what intent I had in mind, but really, for me, no intent is needed to buy most art supplies.  I was reading on someone's blog, (can't recall which one), that she could pass up shoe stores without any problem, but an art supply store! well that is on a whole 'nother level.  I could stay in art supply stores for hours with my mind sparking with ideas and can't leave empty-handed even if I just come out with a single pastel crayon.

*****

I'm missing my father...he passed over 3 years ago.  I can still see him and hear his voice.  He was an only child of my grandmother who was the only daughter of three of my great grandparents.  My father was raised my great-grandmother.  When they left Milledgeville, Georgia for Kentucky, my grandmother was 15 and pregnant with my father who was born Middlesboro, Kentucky.  They left Georgia for the lure of working in a blue jean factory that was hiring Black people.  Some of my great-grandfather's brothers came also and one opened up a barbershop.  At some point, they all pulled up roots again and headed to Louisville, Kentucky.

My man and father of two of my three children was born in West Africa, Lagos specifically.  However, his roots are in Sierra Leone but do not go back beyond his great-great grandmother due to the slave trade.  When the exporting of slaves ended in West Africa people who had been captured and taken to the coastal regions where left there.  The land mass of the continent, the distance, the terrain, would make it near impossible to find one's way back home, even if in deed, home was still there and not burned out, or overtaken by another ethnic group.  His great-grandmother had four sets of twins, one of one set of twins made his way to Nigeria from Sierra Leone by the lure of employment for a Dutch company.  He was not yet 18 when he left home.  A very industrious young man.

My children, all three of them, have benefitted greatly from the journeys and hopes and achievements of their ancestors, but they do not understand it, even though it was something discussed in our home often.  The expectations that they would continue, in a conscientious manner, allow their foundation to inform their daily choices and decisions for long range effects, is a point of view that is absent.  Yesterday morning over coffee we discussed whether our children see themselves as part of a whole and understand how the decisions they make effect and connect to the lives that come before them as well as the lives that will come after them.  In tiny ways they seem to but sometimes in large ways they seem not to.  Peter and I, are still nurturing hope.

I am contemplating all of this while my man still sleeps and is snoring in the bed behind me.  When I first met him, we spent hours upon hours talking in the library about our families and our dreams.  I was impressed then with his consciousness, intellect, convictions, and integrity.  I was trying to re-gather myself after a un-wise decision to marry the father of my oldest son whom I had separated from and it was those conversations where I could hear myself out loud that I found courage. 

Here we are some 28 years later.  It is Father's Day and my heart if filled with gratitude for two of the men whose presence has added meaning to my life.

Here is an excerpt from a poem I wrote for him in 1995...

Ten

One season in ten years
I witnessed your tears twice.
First, at the beginning of the Harmattan
when the nine where executed.
Mora decay of my people;
It could have been ten
you whispered and swallowed

Second, in the middle of the Harmattan.
Christmas Day. The call went through.
The line clear. Your sister spoke.
Father passed away three hours ago.
Unexpected. Sudden. Distance.

From his bedroom window he was looking for you.
Stand at the gate of the compound he was looking for you.

Rare does death not bring regrets.

You manhood is not murky, your soul does not wane.
What you hold is what he has given you -- intense light.
I have see people unable to look you in the eyes,
who want your smile on your teeth instead of in your hear.
Benin masks of eternity reflects
your piercing gaze and sealed lips.
This of your father in you
needed to be here in Kentucky with me.

Happy Father's Day to the men who visit here.  Peace,


4 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing a bit of your history- I'd say you are fortunate to have each other. Seeing ourselves as part of a larger community seems to be something we are losing as a nation- a sad loss indeed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank Beverly, I've had many many lessons in patience and boundaries with my adult children...although saddened sometimes, I'm finally able to let them take their own paths while keeping hope and prayers alive.

      Delete
  2. I love your poem. You are truly an artist of multi-talents!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much Patricia...I say that I make quilts with the soul of a poet...it was my first calling.

      Delete