Another Road Trip

Much shorter this time. Not Wisconsin, not even New Jersey. Going' with Sue again to Elmira, NY Friends Meeting to talk about the book, worship with them. It's been awhile. I feel no pressure to sell books, as at the start of the reading tour. Just be there. Witness as led. I wish I could say the boys would be coming to the country this summer. I should ask, again; try, again. It hurt too much when the parents says no or, worse, nothing. Worse yet when they say yes and then change their mind.

How I want them to have summer memories of the country. Well they do. Two visits' worth. It may have to be enough.

Enough for what? To fend off addiction, despair, alienation from nature, from God. I'm always trying to parent and repair my childhood self. Without the country, woods and fields, from the age of two, I don't know who I'd be; how I would have found joy.

Philadelphia has its parks. I gave them an appetite for trees, running water. They'll find their way.

They saw in the pond but didn't learn to swim. Seeds planted that weren't let to grow. May other plants grow, healthy ones. Let the soil of their spirits not lie fallow. Let them find, whenever they need it, the inner Light. Let them flower, as Galway Kinnell says in "St. Francis and the Sow," "from within, of self blessing."

He's Irish-American too

Obama I mean, who earned an honorary apostrophe this week in Ireland.

Why did his words and the very sight of Michelle and him moving through the crowds move me so? I'm not sure. What Ireland's gone through recently. But deeper than that, my own longing to go home--to Ireland and to an unabashed acceptance of myself as Irish (half) and white (full).

White guilt again...hello old friend. Healing around that is the healing next in line I think. Because I'm living in Cohoes NY, cotton mill town that siphoned potato famine survivors, preferring (the mill owner Robert Johnson is said to have said) lone mothers and children as workers. Easier to manage. The spirit of the place, the stories, the wrecked and (fewer) thriving descendants of the mill workers surround me. I want to write about them, this time. Or, is it, for them?

Seeing him in Ireland, hearing him speak the tongue my grandparents rarely let me hear them speaking--the banned language--something in me connected. The one who'd always loved Black culture and courage, who found in it a way out of personal victimhood, met the girl who longed for "my old Irish home, far across the foam." Who in her longing reached not for a place but for a people--someone to be part of, to be proud of, to be strengthened by.

I don't know how my grandparents and great grandparents got by. No one's told me. The Irish writers are love are mostly of the upper classes. I value their art. I believe historical tensions and horrors compressed them into being--Swift, Joyce, Becket, and the great modern poets.

If it's not too late, I want to come home, too. And help tell the stories.

My grandmother had died suddenly and fairly young. I found a thick '78 in her closet and played it all one summer. Ballads and hornpipe tunes, tap dancing like snare drumming, long lonesome cries for home.

It's old ground, the immigrant stories. I'll make them new. I'll find a way. Is féidir linn.