From A Song To Deliver
Artwork by Gail Bradshaw
Dorothy and Jean
My father’s sisters float in my great grandmother’s boat, her oaken ribs healed, cedar lapstrakes firmed, pine transom trued, bow carved and steadied by the tiny hands who grip her oars and stroke. From under one hundred years of lilies, they cross Balsam Lake at night, gems in Orion’s belt, slip silently through the rushes in the marsh, two fireflies at play, and laugh by the dam in Coboconk, sipping honeysuckle in the sweet June air. They sing hymns on the Souris River, ride the high grasses of the great plains near Russell, North Dakota, and paddle the flooded churchyards of Cincinnati, reading out names on the mossy stones. They called to me one day, as I wobbled earthward, heart fluttering: “Do you know who we are?" And I cried for the infants I never knew, my father's sisters. My great grandmother’s boat is now dust and char, burned and drowned, returned to soil, yet the children are remembered still as the purest light that ever flashed across this planet’s stoney brow, over the alvar lake, beyond the orange dappled shore, above the windy prairie to the silent watery path through the Irish graves in Ohio.
In your heart from the start, You know who I am. Sing me the song of the shepherd and the lamb. Say that word that you heard, No man should have to beg. Sing me the song of the robin and the egg. Say a prayer for the air, For the bee and the fruit. Sing me the song of the branches and the root. In the light, in the night, I know who you are. Sing me the song of the morning star. Sing me the song of the morning star. Sing the song of the morning star.
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