Stumps and Roots
Something makes me step back
over the raised doorsills of time.
careful not to let others hear,
avoid rusty nails
to the size of an unpricked finger,
move cautiously over the pages
in our fairy tale collection.
Here is a picture of the girl with her basket.
How can I tell my daughter, who I read to,
that the child we see on the page is me?
past stumps and roots
to where parents lose their young
and a bear could snap a neck
into the house
for my skin.
Bones pressed tight
in lath and plaster swaddling.
My ancestor draws me
calls me to reach in
to where each small detail looms.
Her life played out in whispers here,
a forest warning.
In childhood we are closest
to the ghosts that formed us.
I must go back to know better
where I came from.
No need to mark the trees
with the tip of a silver knife.
I recognize the way.
From my poetry collection, In Green (Guernica, 2002)
I was reminded of this poem while planning my next post. It’s on navigating your personal history stories along the path to living a braver and more authentic and fulfilling experience. Trust your inner child to lead you, and in doing so, you will discover a vital way forward.
This can feel unsettling.
Yet one of the best gifts we can give ourselves in the process of personal transformation is allowing ourselves to be uncomfortable in service of our growth. Sometimes in order to go forward, we must first go back “over the raised doorsills of time” in order to better appreciate where we have come from.
This has certainly been the way for me.
You are the author of your own life story. Trust your inner child to lead you to the aspects of your own story which are calling for your attention. You are a creative being, and this is a highly creative process.
In my next post, I will share ways of working with emotionally charged material in order to transform old personal history stories into new and empowering editions. This way, you will be able to claim your gifts from them.
“Stumps and Roots” © Robin Blackburn McBride