Poems, Prayers, and Promises
by Melissa Martin
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Antiques represent a piece of Americaís past; national and international treasures. Woods, metals, granite, glass, cloth, and paper; elements fashioned by human hands. Sturdy items built with pride and craftsmanship. Some for luxury but most for necessity. Purposeful furniture evolving to fit the needs of humankind. Plentiful walnut, maple, birch, oak, cedar, pine, and cherry. Melted metals of pewter, copper, brass, gold, and silver poured into mammoth molds. Cast iron caldrons and skillets created for procreating parents; tin cups and plates for sizeable broods; and silver forks and spoons for special occasions. Colorful glassware depicted tastes and times; pottery, crocks, and crystal. Diamonds, rubies, and emeralds sparkled on broaches and necklaces. Leather, lace, buttons, and bows adorned privileged women. Pocket watches speak of the time before wristwatches and clocks. Railroad lanterns and artifacts; collectibles from the Wild West era tell tales of pioneers and progress. Immigrants brought prized possessions on boats to use in the fallow territory.
History is remembered in the wares made from earthís bounty as Mother Nature gave up her natural resources. Today, museums house products of yore and modern society marvels at pioneer creativity. Auctions, E-bay, and antique stores buy, sell, and trade remnants and chunks of the good Ďole days. Antique hunters stalk yard sales, estate sales, and Flea markets.
Hark! There are other reasons for our fondness of antiques. Humans are sentimental creatures and cherish the memories that accompany objects. We attach meaning to the tables and chairs used by our ancestors. Old butter churns provide a glimpse into simpler times. We feel a bonding with our great-great-grandparents as we polish the rolled-top desk and the pie cabinet.
Nostalgia intoxicates our senses. Memorabilia whispers our name. Itís as if we can hear our kinfolk breathing through the old teakettle as the water boils and the steam whistles. We picture great-grandma sewing quilt squares together with stitches of love and care. We feel the pulsing of the crochet needle as it knits shawls and hats. We imagine great-great-grandpa shoeing horses and picking cotton. The thread of genealogy spirals through our patchwork quilt of life. Antiques hold memories of pain and pleasure; joy and sorrow; happy times and sad times; and the simplicity and the complexity of humanity. History remembers by way of antiques; books, pictures, and letters. We remember our loved ones when we display junk and jewelry; trinkets and trunks; wagon wheels and watering cans. Generations past inhabit our antiques with ghost-like qualities, bidding us to set awhile in the old rocking chair or smell the scent from the old coffee grinder. History stands still in our inkwells and wooden mallets. Memories breathe through our antiques and we inhale the essence of our relatives.
Our stories and poems breathe out the past. Our life in words is etched into paper memories. Genealogies depict generations of the deceased and of the living. Kept promises are cherished and turned into precious memories.
The purpose of my parchment is to share thoughts and words about past, present, and future generations. History is kept alive in our stories and poems, in our antiques, in our prayers and promises, and in our memories.
Generations (a poem)
History passed down
via wood, cloth, and paper
soaked in memories of yesteryear.
Cracks and crevices full
of transferred emotions;
dried tears of human suffering,
preserved laughter of hope,
aged moments of affection.
Grandmotherís homemade quilt,
grandfatherís fashioned pipe,
remembrances sealed in fondness.
Yellowed and worn family Bible
passed to the oldest son
tells a story of immigration
to the land of liberty.
Beloved China dinnerware
bequeathed to the oldest daughter
tells a story of family celebrations
in the homeland across the ocean.
Great-grandmotherís wedding rings
rests in an oak jewelry box;
the shimmer rubbed off
by a century of housework.
Items embedded with circled sentiments;
mirrors our ancestral heritage
and reflects forthcoming generations.
Words of fear
Spill from a bleeding heart
As her grandsons go off to war.
Swim in her morning coffee,
Float in her afternoon tea.
The cross around her neck
Glistens with the rising sun,
Twinkles with the nocturnal moon.
Arthritic fingers turn sacred pages
As she pleads for visiting angels,
Memorized verses lament for mercy.
Salty tears flavor her midnight coffee
As she prays for wounded soldiers
And gives thanks for freedomís flag.
Bargaining and promising God
She offers her life as a sacrifice
For the safe passage of her men.
Dancer (a short story)
Hobbling to her closet, she lays down her cane and stares at the weathered cardboard boxes. Her brittle knees crackle as she slumps to the floor. Osteoporosis devoured her bones long ago. Frustrated with fading eyesight, she routs through the clutter. After several minutes of rummaging she finds the box of her beloved shoes. Blowing away dust and spider webs, she gently lifts out the ballet slippers with the faded pink leather. Clutching the shoes to her chest and closing her eyes, she steps back into her childhood recitals; days adorned in leotards, tutus, and ribbons. Sighing, she picks up her scuffed tap shoes; age and arthritis have twisted her toes. Laughing, she dangles her worn ballroom slippers in the air. The Glen Miller Band transports her to the grand dance floor; swirling and twirling--spinning and grinning. Memories flood her senses as she hums with the orchestra. Her dance card was always full with handsome lads and debonair partners. Sparkly silver heels catch her eye and she smiles. She won the dance contest with these lucky shoes and used the prize money to buy a dance studio. Turing the photo album pages in her mind, she reminisces on the days, weeks, and months of her life. Dancing was her dream and passion. Folks said she was a natural. Tears well up. Her dance buddies have all died and left her alone with nothing but shoes and memories. She finds a yellowed photograph signed by her idols, Fred and Ginger; a keepsake for her oldest granddaughter who dances ballet in New York. Hours pass as she revisits moments of waltzing, two-stepping, and fox-trotting. Goose bumps appear as she relives the tango and the rumba. The scent of perfume and sweat mingles in her nose as she kisses her fancy footwear. Becoming tired, she closes the box and struggles to stand up as vertebrae snap and pop. Grabbing her cane as she shuffles toward the bedroom, she lovingly cradles the pink slippers. She knows the last dance is near.
God created the human memory. His gift is in our poems, prayers, and promises.
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