Who was the nomad?
Was it you?
Did you use a walking stick?
A talking stick?
Did you find — as you journeyed — a sense of home?
Why did you leave?
Were you told to honor your father and mother?
But left any way
And now you are being left.
The natural right loneliness of the child, your child,
who fills his backpack, walks away and never looks back. Not once.
I don’t begrudge my children growing up.
I just didn’t know what you went through.
Until it happened to me.
It explains why everything fell apart.
Ancestors before me, have compassion. Forgive me.
I get to thinking it all began — I began —
when my grandparents and great grandparents came on a big ship
From Ireland and from Denmark and Norway.
Separate big ships. In the turbulent Atlantic sea.
Colliding in me.
Making my brothers and sisters too.
But mostly me.
I was born on three big ships crossing the Atlantic.
But I go back to fields and plains and caves.
Just like you.
We were all of us. Walking.
Walking with sticks.
Singing and laughing and arguing
And wondering who our children would be.
And now we set out, as nomads, again.
Where is your journey?
I hope you will find — as your journey — your way home.
Wrote this and am reading this poem for History and Heritage Day, an alternative celebration to Columbus Day today at the Interchurch Center, NYC.