Friday, August 21, 2015

Present at this ceremony

(A single click on the photo will enlarge it.)
The newspaper photographer came to our house to photograph our family after our mother,
Olga Butler Hopper, was selected as Mother of the Year for Schenectady County, NY.
We are all here, I am wearing my favorite dark dress with the small flowers on it that
I made for myself. Marjory is on mother's lap with her chickenpox scabs still showing. 
Susan is wearing plaid. Brothers, left to right: Robert, Richard, John and David.
I thought I must have used this picture on this blog already, but maybe not.
At any rate, I cannot find it here.


We each leaned, palm down with all our weight, into the fresh con-
crete and then it rained, and the handprints in sunken relief turned 
      Present at this ceremony of hands:
      our mother;
      our father;
      the elder of my two brothers, the faint smile and beard already
putting him just beyond reach;
       my sister, with the beautiful, half-formed breasts;
       and next to me my other brother, the one we would each in turn
       while the handprints, orderly, grew smaller, mine the last.
       We're born into the family in a kind of sleep, unmem-
orable. . . the awakening occurs much later. This archive began not 
in words on a day whose details don't matter. Only the handprints
remain, confirming as if by chance an earlier existence, beside the
bird of paradise, inflamed in the twilight, orange and blue.
         On awakening though: to be true to that first glimpse! - that
was the vow. Never to betray.
     And from that moment on, I have memories.

Roo Borson

The Whole Night, Coming Home
McClelland and Stewart. Ltd,, 1984, page 89.

I have been a big fan of the Canadian poet Roo Borson, ever since I encountered her
in an anthology of Canadian poets. I have tried to reproduce the poem the way it is printed,
which may have some alteration from the way she wrote it because of the limits of the page.                                                                                   
Below, my scan of the yellowed clipping. Schenectady Gazette, 1950.

No comments:

Post a Comment