Friday, November 25, 2011

Passing Down Traditions - Daughter to Daughter

   Heidi Mordhorst at my juicy little universe is hosting Poetry Friday.  It's a lovely way to start your weekend.

     My daughter (with her husband) hosted Thanksgiving yesterday.  I added to the table, but it was her day to take, to make her own.  I am happy to give it over and enjoyed being a guest.  She has recently had her second baby, and even more recently returned to work.  I admire her ability to live her life well, and to manage all the details she must manage.  Her husband helps of course, but it wasn't always so in the past.  This day filled me with memories, of past women’s Thanksgivings and all that they accomplished in order to create this day of thankfulness for food and family.  It isn’t easy crafting a feast.  In the work days, part of the mind works out the menu, the shopping, the seating.  It takes some planning ahead in addition to sneaking in the silver polishing late at night when the babies sleep.  I had a wonderful day watching my daughter take care of the day, and counted all my blessings.   When we returned home, I wrote this poem for her, and for her daughters.

                Sestina Memoir

From the mantle shelf, the book
was chosen lovingly by the mother.
She turned then toward her daughter,
inviting her to sit by the fire
and listen to poems of the seasons,
at this time of cold, snow, ice—of winter.

Soon, the words reminded of a long ago winter
when others sat and marveled over a book,
this book, the only one twas valued, about the seasons.
It told of monthly tasks, that mothers
were to perform as their duty.  The fire
blazed, illuminating the face of the daughter.

“Mother, explain this to me,” said the daughter.
“We’ve often sat the long evenings of winter
talking and sewing, telling our stories by the fire.
Why is it that this time you remember that book?”
“Because you are almost a woman,” replied the mother.
“And I was told I would know the right seasons

to guide my life, my family.  Those seasons
of growing to young womanhood, my daughter
are what I’ve left to give you as your mother.”
The young woman shivered, for it was full winter.
She averted her eyes from the book,
to watch the embers glow in the fire.

Then in her body raged a new kind of fire
one that would take fuel from all the seasons.
And the things shown pictured in the book
were now asked after in detail by the daughter
because she did know that it was already winter,
and she desired answers from her mother.

“Yes, my dear, I have your answers,” said her mother.
“If you’ll just throw more logs upon the fire
and keep from me the sorrow of winter
I’ll share with you the secrets of the seasons.
First the spring, when you were my little daughter.
See, look here, at pictures in the book.”

They rambled on to winter, last of seasons,
then the mother turned and kissed her lovely daughter,
said goodnight, put out the fire, and closed the book.


  1. What a gripping piece; thanks SO much for sharing this beautiful poem this morning. I am touched by your words as I'm learning to let go of our daughter, who's just now wrapping up her first semester of college. What a journey, this thing called life!


  2. This poem made me cry - our time with our children when they are living with us every day passes by so quickly. I loved how you captured the richness of the love and memories we share and then draw upon when they have "flown the coop" to lives of their own. Thanks for this, Linda!

  3. Wow, Linda--that's an awfully complete piece you managed to write between Thanksgiving dinner and this morning. Some of this is also happening in my family, on quite a different schedule. Enjoyed the gracefulness of your hand-off!

  4. This piece is beautiful. It makes my heart ache and surrounds me with comfort all at the same time. I can tell by the beauty of these words that you are capturing a beautiful relationship you have spent many years enjoying with your daughter. I am so glad you shared!

  5. Thank you for sharing, Linda - my daughter, 19, is in her second year of college and our relationship has definitely settled into something new (and easier, truth be told!) in the last year or two. She wanted to learn how to make the cranberry bread yesterday morning, as I learned from my mom. And she made the pumpkin pie this year! As Barbara said, What a journey....

  6. Hi Linda, my eyes brim over as I read this reflective poem that says so much yet distilled in few, well-chosen words and image-filled phrases that make the heart sing. Just last night, my nine year old daughter and I had soo much fun reading Judy Blume's "Tales of a fourth-grade nothing" - our laughter filling all the rooms of our little home - I only wish I could experience the same blessings that you have been richly given with your own daughter and your mother too - twenty/thirty years down the road. :) So beautiful.

  7. Beautiful poem, and I too admire how gracefully you and your daughter are managing the relational shifts. My daughters are young still, but this gives me a flash-forward.

  8. Thank you all for your heartfelt comments! Mother-daughter relationships are so special, & I can hear it in your words, no matter where you are in your motherly lives, that you feel it, too. Best of wishes!

  9. Mmmm. A wonderful reflection with meaning for many. I watched my daughter this Thanksgiving being a mom for the first time and enjoyed our as the torch was passed. I love the mom-friend relationship!.

  10. Lovely. Makes me wish I could be sitting on the couch with my mother now, with a book between us, and a sharing of our seasons.


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