Sunday Poetry: Stained by her Girlhood’s Gravy

Welcome to Sunday Poetry.  If this is your first visit you can read about the purpose and inspiration of my Sunday poetry blogs here.

Did you have enough of family this week?  If you live in the U.S., did you spend the Thanksgiving holiday with relatives you rarely see and who are determined each year to prove you have nothing in common?  Did you roll your eyes over old stories you tired of hearing years ago?  Did you wish for prime rib or lasagna instead of dried-out turkey, complete, as always, with soggy cornbread stuffing?

Or instead, did you glory in the moments, even imperfect ones, that you spent together?  Did you wish that loved ones who have since passed on were there to tell the old tales?  Because while you still remember those stories well, they aren’t the same in memory as they were when spoken around the table?  Did a newcomer bring something jazzy and refreshingly different to the feast and you wished the lumpy mashed sweet potatoes hadn’t disappeared to make room for it? 

Holidays with family. Pulitzer Prize winning novelist John Updike says it so beautifully in Relatives, brought to us here by The Writer’s Almanac.  We parry, we embrace, we part, and at the next holiday, we drift back together, sometimes from guilt, more often from instinct.  In the end, family remembers us when we were in diapers or despair, and loves us anyway.  Family moves swiftly beyond boundaries.  People we hardly remember feel such a part of us they don’t hesitate to tell the sad truths along with the glorious possibilities. 

“To love one’s self is to love them all.”

Remember there are no quizzes here, no right ways to read or contemplate the poem we share.  Absolutely no dissecting allowed.  Just come along for the “read.”  What line, word or thought will you carry with you this week?  If you’d like to tell us where the poem took you?  We’ll listen.



  1. Lil on December 8, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    Coincidence? My first time to join the comments on Sunday poetry and my name is in the poem, “Aunt Lil’s tablecloth stained with her childhood’s gravy”. I smell turkey baking in the oven and crave a slice of pecan pie. I hear repeated stories of previous holidays and comparisons of children to their parents when they were young. Now that my parents are gone, I miss their presence at the holidays and strain to remember the stories they told. I struggle to find my place within the family, the relatives.

    • Emilie Richards on December 8, 2011 at 8:32 pm

      Clearly you were meant to read with us. Hope you got your pecan pie again this Thanksgiving.

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