tagNon-Erotic PoetryThis Sanguine Water

This Sanguine Water


This Sanguine Water

                                          The old man watched me,
                                          sitting in the tatters of his skin,
                                          brittle as a dying branch,
                                          pale and parched. 1

                                                       - Angeline

The blood of my blood enriching the soil
and poisoning the waters…
The blood of my blood flowing…
and flowing until all that remains
is the hollow whisper of legacies
buried in attic trunks and faded scrapbooks,
the names scrawled in the great family Bible
that sleeps dusty on a shelf upstairs,
parched vellum hidden in gold-trimmed leather.

This river is chronicled there, carefully carved
in old style letters scratched brown in sanguine ink,
captains and lumbermen, beggars and thieves.
I hear the sighs of those daguerreotyped men,
their brittle voices smothered in the chanted
hopes and dreams bequeathed to their children,
who have long since become the blood in my veins,
flowing and flowing until all that remains
is their lives, marked in the lifelines of these hands
that will never hold my own child.

These hands now the dying branch of the family
of immigrant carpenters… the quiet, solemn folk
who stepped from the Fortune onto promised soil
and planted this future four hundred years ago.
The life source of this sanguine water, flowing
and flowing until all that remains
are blossomed fields where the blood of my blood
was once a river, and the rich soil was
the New World promise of fathers and children.
They felled their history onto each generation,
from Goodie Nurse roped chained and hung
in Salem, to the silence of Giles Corey,
his will still singing silent from beneath the stones,
piled one by one until their faith crushed him.
This sanguine water remembers them, flowing
and flowing until all that remains
is the pale knowledge that their river ends
in my tattered skin that now cradles their blood.

This knotted strength of generations, twisted and tightened
into the burl wood of my grandfather’s hands,
as he shaped and smoothed wood, sanding promise
that was silenced by fate just a surely as the stroke
that muted his words, hence I never heard him speak.
From father, to daughter, to this son, his storied blood
flowing and flowing until all that remains
are the solemn faces in faded photographs, names soon
forgotten and lost to the children I never had.

This sanguine water, blood of my blood,
has become the eulogies spoken over their graves,
the words hewn and cleaved into memories, flowing
and flowing until all that remains
are the expectant smiles of my brother’s daughters.
Our family name now misty water in their veins,
for he has no sons, no child to craft more legacy.
Still, for all those men before me, I pray that one day
this blood of my blood somehow enriches the soil, and
blossoms like miles of flowers opening at once.3

1From Angeline’s The Nightingale, ©2004
2From Average Gina’s I Screamed at Humanity, ©2004
3From Angeline’s Memory Like Skin, ©2004

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