I was doing some ancestral research a few years ago. For several
days, I concentrated on my great-great-grandmother, Mary. Not
only was I searching through census lists, trying to locate her mother,
sister and brother, who were all separated after her father died in the
Civil War, but I was empathizing with her feelings on losing a father,
as well as, later in life, a young son.
Over the course of the days while I was doing this research, a song,
out of nowhere, kept playing over and over again in my head. Finally,
it was driving me nutty and I had to look it up. It was a slow version
of Listen to the Mockingbird, a song very popular during the Civil
War, with sad lyrics about a singer, dreaming of his sweetheart, dead
and buried, and a mockingbird singing over her grave. I certainly
hadn't heard this song anywhere and thought it a strange earworm.
It suddenly came to mind, that it must have a connection to Mary,
who I had been thinking about so intently.
After telling this to my sister this weekend, I was inspired to write
My foremothers, apron to apron,
with deer hide knots and Irish muslin.
Their spirits beam ancestral pride,
within my household walls
did hide, as newborns cried;
lulled to sleep with fiddle tunes
native chant and Celtic runes.
Weave 'round their offspring
gentle ties, connecting each
with tribal string;
maternal knots join with the earth,
will reason for each new one's birth.