The Ones Who Made You
Your family always lived in old houses,
full of nooks and crannies, light and shadows.
Aunts, grandparents, great-grandparents
in their clapboard walls and wrinkly windows.
Each of these old enough to be historic homes
were filled with bookshelves, each home
with a different bent.
One aunt’s shelves were full of European novels,
19th-century wonders full of wondrous language,
Dickens. Trollop, Dumas. Defoe
Swashbuckling, Complex gothic tales.
In another house, there were American classics
all lined in an oak bookcase you now own.
Twain. So much Twain. Fitzgerald, Faulkner.
These became your history. A soulful history.
In yet another the books were hidden behind knickknacks,
Lurid covers that promised more than they delivered.
Still what they delivered were a delight, noir mysteries
you devoured like a drunk at midnight.
Somewhere in school, you learned history.
Proper, official history. But it was never your history.
Yours came from Novels., from the stories
and people more real than real.
You inherited everyone’s books and they mingle
in your home like a party full of uncomfortable guests
trying to understand each other’s language,
all these, your founders, the ones who made you.
About this poem
A history of my most important education, and where my sense of reality came from (or at least is influenced by.). A poem about how we see. Poetry is never about one thing.