Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Disappeared

Bankrupt

How oddly ordinary to see them there
Crammed into files and boxes
Waiting for one more
Chance to be adjudicated
To be declared bankrupt
Without assets to proceed
Or recover on their own

All that remains
Are tasteless survival rations
Props and half-baked substance
Dumped and stirred into a
Great stew and foamy ferment
Of yesterday’s failed efforts to
Make this world a better place
In which to die
Or live diminished

Starving youth and children
Keep calling back wanting only
A fair go at being somebody
Or helping some body and soul
Hurting in this world weary
Of waiting for what most certainly
Will not arrive on time

Only You and they know fully
The challenge the exasperation
The hurdles and setbacks of
Trying to make it to first base
Without being called out
Fired from the team or
Disappeared

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 14 March 2018

disappeared


disappeared seeds
sown in haste germinate –
my heart skips a beat

It’s the late 1950s. I’m a young teenager, sitting at the supper table with my parents and my three sisters. I’m teary, feeling crampy and a bit nauseous. Not eager to eat anything.

My father tells me to stop crying and eat my dinner. I can’t stop crying, and my stomach ache isn’t going away.

My father tells me to stop this nonsense immediately, or he’ll give me something to really cry about. I burst into loud tears and run upstairs to my bedroom, sobbing my heart out.

My childhood, youth and adulthood are littered with occasions that replicate or echo these dynamics. My biggest problem, so it seems, is that I’m over-emotional and haven’t yet learned to control myself.

I learned to ‘disappear’ myself by choking on my emotions, swallowing them, eating them alive, or trying to paste a happy face over my true face.

When I wrote about the pain of retirement, I said I feel ‘disappeared.’ I didn’t hear it then as a loaded word. But now I do. A cue of sorts. The kind that suggests the opposite of what it seems to say. Following is my un-disappeared, crystal clear comment about myself.

No, I do not feel sorry for myself. No, I’m not stuck in a gear I need to shift out of. No, I’m not simply repeating myself over and over and over again.

My words are my words. My feelings are my feelings. I’m as entitled to them as anyone else is to his or hers. I dare not sit on them, deny them, modulate them to suit your ears, or beg forgiveness for not living up to what you believe should be the standard for my life.

I’ve never understood why some men (also some women) have, throughout my life, felt free to give advice about how I should NOT be. Or about what I should be ‘over’ by now.

My father buried and tried to smother in his body and soul the very things he demanded I bury in my body and soul. Not because they would harm me, but because they made him uncomfortable, or didn’t fit his view of the woman he wanted me to become. Or the man he thought he was.

I’m grateful for my feelings. I admit to feeling uneasy sometimes about letting them show. Yet overall, I’m grateful to be a highly sensitive woman of a certain age. Unleashed, untamable, not prone to shame or responsive to scolding.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 11 December 2017
Image  found at ucg.org

Disappeared

Disappeared
without a trace
comes home to haunt us

Dis-membered
lives and bodies broken
past yet present

Suppressed
roots of our
current discontent

We don’t have to accept this state of denial. It leaves traces that scream to be heard. We are a multicultural nation.

We don’t all agree that this is a proud heritage. Nonetheless, not once in my upbringing or schooling did anyone introduce me to the full history of multicultural America, the so-called United States. We seemed content with stylized stories that perhaps told part, but not nearly enough of the truth.

The seminary in which I taught and served as dean had a proudly diverse student body, faculty and staff. Yet every time there was a national racial incident (Rodney King, for example), I was reminded of how much I didn’t know or understand.

During my last year at the seminary, I was part of a small faculty group that piloted a way to work together on issues of race and multicultural differences. We took up-front time coming to agreement about how to be safe within our diverse group. Then we got to work, doing with each other the personal and group work that might be done across our campus and institutional structures.

One of the most riveting books we read was A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America. It’s now out in an expanded, updated edition. The author Ronald Takaki, was born and raised in the USA. His ancestors came from Japan, and he looks Japanese. And yet…he was still considered an outsider.

Takaki’s well-documented book begins with American Indians, before the so-called discovery of this country. From there, he traces the chronological history of multicultural America to the present.

This is the American History I was never taught in school. Takaki packs it with data, stories, photos, archived news articles, and astute insights into why we are diverse, and how each group was received into these United States. He also has a vision for what we might learn from this history about our future as a thriving multicultural nation.

We’ve forgotten our roots. We’ve suppressed them and found ways to cope with or rewrite the truth about our past. We’ve done this in public and private, newscasts, corporations, universities, neighborhoods, families, churches and communities of faith, and in our educational system—to name a few. Textbook wars are still fought to keep certain voices from seeing the light of day.

Sadly, this approach suppresses the truth about brave women, men and children who found and still find ways to work together against our national habit of creating insiders and outsiders.

What kind of future do we want for our country? What would it take to get from here to there?

For starters, you might read this book. You might find yourself in it. Or, if you’d like a shorter, equally riveting edition, there’s an edition for young people. Same title, with well-documented stories and photos. Both books are difficult to put down.

Add it to your reading list!

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 31 May 2017
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Trace

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