The family reunion was in a strange place, surrounded by dead grass and gravel, 26 miles out of town. We all filed in to the huge structure, which looked like it was designed as a horse barn. In a kitchen equipped with two electric ranges side by side, we(more) fried bacon and warmed beans, prepared fresh pot stickers and pancakes. Mornings saw grownups filter past the coffee urn and dish out cereal for the children: in the early morn the gravel was not hot yet, and a few would sit at plastic picnic tables, maps spread out, planning the day. A litany of plans exchanged, agreements made, directions drafted on scraps of paper, pamphlets underlined. We would make plans to come together, to reminisce, to talk about what we do now and what we will do this year. We divided chores. The children ran between rooms, undisturbed that they were not playing outside: they were horses and enemies, going to the moon and to a show.
My own family does not reunite, and I came to this extended clan with some apprehension, a sense that I would always be posing. I was correct in that. I cannot fake memories of church suppers and childhood road trips.
This is the first year after the death of the matriarch, a sturdy woman who lived to 103. One night we opened her jewelry box and each woman in the family, in order of age, would select something. I was the last woman before the children. I chose a mesh purse from 1928. A Viking ship charm. A Swedish pewter flower. On the last round, a silver hair clasp that belonged to my husband's great-grandmother. I put it in my hair for my daughters to see.
On the hillside, wildflowers blossomed, sage smelled sweet. (less)
you have those stupid eyes
the kind that see right through me
you smile at me
like it's all my idea
and we're both in on the joke
(more) you never did get around to telling me what it was,
the secret magical password
the one that brings out the invisible
wouldn't matter anyway
inevitability and all that
the fates are about to shake things up, make it real
all of it
time to go with the flow
jump on the nearest train
this is one ride we aren't gonna miss
time flies when you're having fun
it crawls like a motherfucker when you're gone(less)