A family secret—a poem

Why a proud mother and grandmother does not write about her own children and grandchildren. A poem about superstition and the power of poetry.

I will never be honest with you, my reader.
I will let you think my family
starts and ends abruptly
with mother, father, sisters.

I will never let you know
that I have daughters, sons
and grandchildren
and most of them have partners.

I never write about them
although there’s plenty to say
but what if a poem nudged them
to change, to be a certain way?

What if they felt defined
or worried or constrained
by a fragment of perception
falling one day from my fingers?

That could be fatal
because they’re perfect
all of them gods in veils
living gentle shiny lives.

And if that bastard Death
should cast his bloody eye their way
I will always bellow, “Look at me!
I’m old! Pick me! Pick me!”

Rachel McAlpine

Cartoon of woman in a heart-shape shielding her beloved family

10 thoughts on “A family secret—a poem

  1. mpardi2013 says:

    Having worked with many families as they processed the death of a loved one I often saw in action the myth of replacement, especially if the deceased was aged. The younger family members would start to wonder who was going to have the incoming baby.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      And how a new baby does heal and help to change the experience of grief. Especially if the death is expected and timely. We love to see a rightful rhythm, at some level.

  2. colonialist says:

    Powerful, indeed. It reminds me of a close family member who was recently found to have created a second, and entirely admirable, family. Heaven knows why it was hushed up.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      How mysterious.

      1. colonialist says:

        They made it so. Quite unnecessarily, except for the era being somewhat stuck-up.

  3. JT Twissel says:

    I know the feeling. Pick me! You caught the feeling.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    I enjoy the decision to keep them private, not inviting any trouble their way.

  5. anne leueen says:

    I’d be stepping up to the Grim Reaper and hollering “pick me”. Interesting post!

  6. Intriguing. I dissociate from my family. Never married, no kids – never wanted. I’ll be back, reading you. Thank you for this.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Thanks for visiting. See you later.