Adventures: Ancestors

I wrote the first draft of this poem in Guatemala, after a month and a half of fieldwork learning k’iche’, improving my spanish, and having informal meetings about my dissertation research.

I was an hour early (accidentally) to an event, and then the event started a half-hour late, so I had plenty of time to sit and think and write.

I am writing this blog post, now a week or so later, in Nicaragua, the birthplace of my great-grandmother on my dad’s side. I intended to post it from Nicaragua, but the last morning, power was out from a blown transformer, and my friend Rachel and I spent all morning talking to the hotel owner about current events, politics, her work, and life in Nicaragua. While I was there, I thought a lot about this being the land that she left to head for the U.S. in the early 1900s.

my great-grandparents Sydney Boudreaux (of Lousiana) and Lilia Perera (of Cabo Gracias a Dios, Nicaragua)

As part of my trip, we also visited the ancient Mayan ruins at Copan Ruinas, Honduras. The photo below is the hieroglyph staircase, recording the history of the people who lived there, including dates of birth death, and major events. These are lots of disperate thoughts, but I think there is a common thread.

Walks through cemetaries and ancient places often brings me back to thoughts of mortality, and legacy, and the experience and meaning of life and humanity. Who are we? What are we? What exists beyond mortal life? What does it mean to be alive? To be dead? What does the experience of each moment mean? For whom do you live your life? Why? What is left when our physical bodies are gone? What does it mean?

*~~*^^*“**~^**~~*^^*“**~^**~~*^^*“**~^**~~*^^*“**~^*

Running through the forest and fields
jumping over logs
in a single smooth stride
ducking under branches,
swift, fast
without missing a beat,
feet landing
after every leap
planting firm on the soft earth.
Sweat beading on my forehead
breathing deep and heavy, but smooth
blood pumping
heart racing
my muscles and sinew,
my bones and ligaments
strong, firm
knowing and aware
hot and alive.

But, now I am old
my long hair is tied
in a brown and grey braid.
My bones are tired,
my ligaments and sinews stiff.
My stride is short,
my knees and ankles wobbly.
I shuffle slowly through the forest,
taking each step carefully,
eyes on the ground
spotting holes and branches,
which before, I could spring through and over
but which now would lay me down.

I sometimes find a familiar old rock
to sit on, beneath the ancient cedar
on the crest of the ravine by the lake.
I sit and close my eyes
and breathe deeply.
I smell the sweet, damp earth
moist and close.
I hear the light breeze in the trees,
drips of dew on the leaves
and the breathing of the earth,
ever so subtle and quiet.
I feel the gentle rays of the sun
creeping through the branches.

I hear thumping and rushing of leaves
and laughing.
I peek open my eyes and feel warmth rise
inside of me,
I see a herd of my flesh and blood
running through the forest and fields
jumping over logs
in a single smooth stride
ducking under branches,
swift, fast
without missing a beat,
feet landing
after every leap
planting firm on the soft earth.
I can hear their breathing,
and feel their heart
pumping in mine.

heiroglyph staircase at Copan Ruinas, Honduras, ancient mayan ruins. the staircase hiroglyphs tell the story of the city and a part of mayan history.

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One response to “Adventures: Ancestors

  1. Pingback: 30 Years of Storytelling | EmaBee's Art·

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