There was your grandmother and your mother, and they were all you needed to know about the women before you. There was perseverance and there was gullibility. When you were a child, you were held on soft laps by strong arms. Their stories were all the stories you needed to know. Mother told you about Grandmother’s first mistake, marrying a lazy man, his flying fists, the menial jobs it took just for her to get out. Your mother lived part of that life, too. But as a girl you only saw the after. Small joys magnified by your grandmother’s shining golden center: her children’s children, and their children. For a while, you overlapped—you, your mother, your grandmother. Print dresses, summer gardens, an old jukebox, a canoe, the lake. Then it was only your mother, your beautiful mother. Who’d believe anything, with her ready, hopeful smile, but who was always lucky, despite being green. Then she was the grandmother, wise and canny, foretelling your mistakes, your joy, pain, love. It would be another long time—when you were nearly an old woman yourself—before you learned what they never said, your grandmother and your mother. That the blues passed from you to yours were first passed on from them to you. The blues, in so many shades, that never completely fade. Because you are the mother of men, it is the end of the women, but not of the stories. We’ll start with the blues, but move quickly now, because there’s little time, and so much more to say.
First published in The Ekphrastic Review, 9 June 2022.