My father's father played his violin in the attic
Where no one could see his tears.
My aunt (his mother's sister) kept nubian goats
And two squirrel monkeys in her sunroom
That she would diaper and release when we visited.
There is nothing like the sensation
Of those tiny fingers searching your hair
For lice to eat and occasionally finding one.
And my grandmother was a believer in ghosts
Like me. When she died she became a ghost
For a while. When I fell out of a tree at 6
She was the one who found me. The story goes
That she thought I was dead because my eyes were closed
But I was not dead. The story goes that I didn't open my eyes
Because I was afraid I would see angels.
The story goes that my grandmother couldn't have found me
Because she wasn't there. She was on Cape Cod
Where she lived with her sister, Margery.
My uncle Bill played blind-folded chess
And he played the Rustle of Spring by heart
With a zillion mistakes, so the rustle
Was more like a hustle to get through it.
His look was always anguished.
I think he was hoping that one day
All the notes would be miraculously perfect.
My father was a good man but sad.
He was a sad electrical engineer.
He lost us during the late sixties and early seventies,
My brother and me, because we were against the war
And he was too but didn't know it
Until we were all grown up. Then he became a Jungian analyst
And was moderately happy analyzing his dreams.
I hope no one includes me in a glib poem like this
When I am dead. But, in fact, my father's side of the family
Is where all the creativity lay hidden.
You can't have creativity without a little craziness
And sorrow. The magic is in the ratio.
Now I am going to send this to my son.
(Article changed on Jul 30, 2021 at 6:12 PM EDT)