Thursday, April 02, 2015

Autobiography in 36 Lines

I swear I remember posting this here--but none of my searches brought it up. So here it is (again?):

Autobiography in 36 Lines

I was born nine months after a Greenwich Village
party--spaghetti sauced with red wine and dried
fruit, Chianti served in painted glasses. My parents
went home early to begin my journey. My mother

made art in those days, and in all her days to follow.
When I was seven, the curse of her illness threatened
to smother me. But I believed she couldn't die.
Two years later, I kissed her goodbye. My father

and I rode in a car without a radio, singing 40s jazz
for our own entertainment, as our own musicians.
By sixteen, I sang with the radio and 45s, and spoke
into a clunky black telephone with a dial. My friends

pored over Photoplay magazines with me, smoked
with me, and professed our (technical) virginity.
I abandoned the piano for the guitar and folk music.
By twenty-one I sang wherever I could. My boyfriend,

heavily educated, stiffly objected, so I quit singing 
and married him. He gave me Tiffany jewelry, trips
to Bermuda; then a little cottage in the country,
a farmhouse, a sewing machine. The dogs and cats

seemed to stay the same age always, as did we for years.
Our children entered school, and I settled to enjoy
what I thought would be the status quo for....decades?
Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Mother, father, three kids

forever. Seeds in the ground every spring, peas to shell
on the porch in summer, school bus in the fall. Winters
never dreaded because we never felt so much as a chill.
We read books by the woodstove. We felt safe. We were

for a time. Frost, when it comes early, unexpectedly,
hits hard. My husband went first, though his strong
body lingered years. Photos, framed around my house,
tell a story: Two of the children grow older; one does not.

I have struggled with clutter, sold off art, battled dust
and fruit flies, evicted dead mice, and rescued spiders.
I have laughed till I cried and cried till I screamed.
I have lost. I have won. And everything in between.


Julia said...

That is a beautiful autobiography, now put it to music. You still can.

Helen said...

This is incredible, Susan. I hope it reaches a wider audience.

Susan said...

Thanks, Julia and Helen. I wrote it in 2007 and recently unearthed it while going through old files. I haven't written any poetry in a while. Julia, it I set it to music it would be quite a medley, from Bob Dylan to Shostakovich! lol

Eulalia Benejam Cobb said...

Beautiful, sad, joyful...just like life.

Indigo Bunting said...


crystal said...

Beautiful poem and life.

Smoking!!! No singing anymore??? I save spiders too :)

Ya Ya said...

Susan, this is SUCH a god synopsis of life (and so beautifully said!)

Ya Ya said...

That would be GOOD, but it could probably be God, too! LOL

Susan said...

Thank you, Ya Ya! And a belated thank-you to Crystal, Indigo, and Lali.