More Motherlines

matroska, mattryoshka

A friend alerted me to the old Yuletide traditions of Mother’s Night. Initially, celebrated on Solstice Eve, the night before the Great Goddess gives birth to the sun once again. In the Christian tradition, especially in Germanic countries, it would be celebrated on Christmas Eve. Last night was Solstice Eve since in my time zone winter solstice arrives at 22:23 tonight. So it was natural for my thoughts to turn to my grandmothers. And while my paternal grandmothers are directly linked to a Germany that would have known Mother’s Night, my thoughts were drawn to my motherlines. I kept thinking of those Matryoshka dolls. They are like educational aids for explaining the biology of lineage, how the great-great grandmother’s egg is connected through the daughter she nurtured in her womb having the egg for the next generation.

Today’s Poetry Daily celebrates my own personal motherline. While I do not have a photo of my great-great grandmother, I do have an object that has come into my possession. It is a hand-made, wooden portable writing case she gave to my great-grandmother in 1875.

ancestor echoes
Ancestral artefact

Does it take five or five times five
for the egg to hatch, an idea
to come out true?

Consider my great-grandmother's
old writing case,
a Christmas present made by hand
given by my
great-great grandmother in 1875.

Mary Ella five times ago
mother to me
the egg in her body became -
hatching  out Mary Ella, then
Mary , and then
Elma, whose egg hatched out me.

So many Marys.  Women given
a name which means
sea of sorrow, but yolked with
another one
full of fey light to keep afloat.
Even my own
middle name marks me as  being
in the very
same lifeboat. We are five Mary's.

And then this writing case was placed
in my keeping.
Wherein paper, ink, letters lived
along with the
thoughts, dreams, perhaps unfulfilled schemes.
Or maybe not.

I  have no daughter to offer.
One long ago
Christmas in a far away place
some ancestor
hurried to finish this present
which, in its turn
was given to me . My empty womb,
its salt sorrow.

Tonight I feel all the Marys, 
my mother, too
huddling around me and sharing
their grace.  Take this.
Take pen, paper, ink, letters.
Go on! Create.
Love, when it is true, will always
come out through you.

Copyright © 2018 Bee Smith

Featured image Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash

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