"This is the day that the Lord hath made!"
Harriet Bond Wetherbe Jeffreys
Would chant to wake her many children,
Mostly to rouse them by annoyance
And by her own bombastic pleasure
In having a righteous thing to say.
"Let us rejoice and be glad in it!"
Yesterday, rejoicing in being
Still around under the sun, her son,
Mark Edwin Jeffreys was explaining
To his quizzical child how many
Members of his family had died.
She stopped him on Grandma Harriet
Because their lifetimes had overlapped
By a few months but they hadn't met.
Sequoia Athena Jeffreys asked
For more information on Grandma,
And in the manner of the era,
Sequoia's father typed Harriet's
Name onto a gleaming piece of glass
And was gobsmacked to see photographs
Of his own mother he'd never seen
Before, floating out there named and tagged.
Of course, they were low resolution
And he'd have had to buy membership
In this or that ancestry service
To see the higher resolution
Reproductions of his mother's face
In a bad bob in the Depression,
Smiling shyly on a World War farm.
But it was enough. He could hear her
In her forties and fifties, singing
To wake up the kids in New Jersey;
He could see her whiskered, edentate
Grimace of a smile near the finish.
"Oh let us rejoice, let us rejoice,
And be glad! In! It!" All that we are,
Every song, every verse, every word,
Every image, every memory,
Even our hoarded, reconstructed
Own, comes from, or heads out, outside us.
But we can't escape our locations
Within each passing frame of mammal.
His mother was everything she was
Not. Him, too. His child, too. Forever,
A village audience attending
To the circus performers passing
In alien tents, the opera
Singers left over from somewhere else,
The circuit preachers, the lecturers,
The love that visits, inhabits, leaves.