Emulating Aeschylus

by Christine Adams Beckett

Crouching in a dusty attic,
Peeling plastic lids
From bins filled with succulent
History, a mother inspects
An embroidered white cotton dress
Worn by a daughter a decade ago.

A yellowed stain at the hem,
Where a bloodied knee
Brushed the lace and
Accompanying stitching,
Stubbornly held on to the memory,
The recognition that no longer
Was she completely protected by
Uterine blood, umbilical pulsations.

She pictured her dismounting
A pony, catching her sandal on
The rope stirrup and the
Answering, collective inhalation:
A fearful suck of oxygen
Gulped by normally laissez-faire
French parents, interrupting their customary
Unaffected, benign neglect.

The American walked alongside
The ambling pony, still
Unable to fight the gravity of
A fast-moving two year-old torso
Angling to try the drawn carriage instead.
Powerlessly witnessing
The scraping skin against gravel,
The same sympathetic pain
Deep in the gut revisited
Her mother crouched in a dusty attic.

Lemon juice, salt, sun fades the
Yellow scar of a stain, removing evidence
Of the wound where the light entered
An older sister, a wisdom acquired
By pain and unable to be bequeathed
Via hand-me-down.

The younger would skin her own knees
On something entirely less romantic
Than a promenade in the Jardin du Luxembourg:
A suburban park path, a driveway,
A sidewalk leading to a copse
Of businesses hugging a train station,
Featuring a uniquely American,
South Asian-run épicerie.

For parents of every culture:
Earth wind and water will deliver
A painful education to our children
Who are subject to elements of light
Until they are returned to it.