Foerster Family Portrait, 1919

Tomorrow I fly to Omaha, Nebraska for my cousin Aaron's wedding. Every single member of my mother's family will be there, so it will be an unprecedented family reunion of three generations with lots of new babies in the family to meet. I was looking back over family photographs and remembered this poem I'd written about my maternal grandmother's family. How I wish my grandparents Chuck and Dolores could be there!

Foerster Family Portrait, 1919

Grandmother, you are four, maybe,
the darling baby in a family of –
count them—eleven children,
plus who knows how many
additional miscarriages
or young deaths your clear-eyed
mother may have suffered quietly;
her German fortitude betraying
no struggles, she is all serene
and proud with her hearty brood.
Here, one of your sisters wears the
habit of Catholic nuns, in a few years
another sister would too.
In the back row: Hilda, Ella, Leo,
Sister Luke, Otto, Bruno, Laura
(later Sister Marcella) and Julia.
In the front row: Rudy, your father Frank
then you, little pixie, front and center,
your mother Mary, then Genevieve.

Grandmother, was it from your mother
or father’s line that you inherited
your wry sense of humor? Which sister
taught you to sew? Did your mother
make pickles with you each summer?
Which of these siblings was the prankster,
which the athlete, which the artist, which
one shy? What did your father like to do
in the evenings? Was your home filled
with music, baseball, stories round the fire?
Did your mother play cards like you?
How did you celebrate birthdays?
What did you do for the 4th of July?

I study the faces of your family - 
my family –
I hear the click of the camera,
the whoosh of the flash bulb.
A momentary pause
then in the next instant, I hear
you all jostling, laughing, 
heading off to lunch
into each individual and
infinitely detailed life.

1 comment:

  1. Love this poem Sarah! Thank you for capturing our family memories with your beautiful words!