Roots: a prose poem

 

Roots

My roots were firmly fastened to the books that I found in the many libraries in this and other towns surrounding my parents’ village. They brought me there (libraries). They fetched them to me (books). They presented me with new soil; the ground in which the writers grew and learned and wrote from. My roots went deep, are deep but mobile. Not fastened to the ground—to any ground, but nurtured by the soil that gave birth to those books I read, the people who wrote them. Good or bad. True or false. Or telling truth more strongly through their stories than through news reports.

And so I live today within five miles, still, of where I was born. Still asked, “You have an accent. Where are you from?” And when I answer, they respond, “Where have you lived, then?” or “That cannot be!” Here I remain, still a stranger to them all. All but a few. The roots that hold the tightest are not of my father’s village, where I was raised…or in this larger city, birthplace of my father.

I’m not born of, no, nor grafted to that stock, but to my parents’ real lives and home: their travels, loyalties, their loves, their dreams…the universe.

“Roots: A prose poem.” Copyright © 2016-01-18, by Lizl Bennefeld. All rights reserved.

Written for Mara Eastern’s Poetry 101 Rehab, now hosted by Andy Townend.
Prompt: “Roots”.

6 thoughts on “Roots: a prose poem

    1. I went through school in our village being ridiculed and beaten up for being different. For my strong points, not my weaknesses. I resented it, but all I really wanted was to be invisible: to not be interrupted in my learning. They really didn’t understand, students or teachers.

      The summer before my senior year in high school, I arranged to take my senior Civics/Sociology/Psychology class at a larger high school up the road a stretch. (We–my mother, father and I–had been pushing for a foreign language to be taught. My junior year, they started offering French.) I moved civics, &c., to summer school so that I could simultaneously complete second-year French, join the senior choir as well as band, and still have time to take first year Latin by correspondence during my last year of high school.

      The teacher for civics at that other high school was good. We had several long talks, that fall, about my problems in certain classes. And we talked about what I was reading, writing, thinking. He and his wife were the ones who told me to consider the possibility that in disagreements of both facts and logic, I was not dumb. I was threatening. He told me, having seen my test scores, that this was a problem that I always would have. He told me to cut my teachers some slack. A lot of the time, he said, I’d just flat out be right and they’d be wrong or not be able to understand what I was saying. That is. I should have confidence in what I read and did and learned on my own, and do my own research when there was a difference of … opinion.

      And so, I’m not sorry to say, I chose my own path academically and career-wise with thought to what I wanted to know and do. To consider achieving my own goals, not someone else’s, because I didn’t have to suit anyone else’s goals or expectations of me. If I wanted to play with computers for a living and spend my paltry salary on buying and reading books and keeping a roof over our collective heads, that was my business. He told me that I was competent to make those decisions for myself and that they would be the right decisions. He was correct. I owe him for freedom from guilt, shame and illegitimate obligations. I have run on too long. You get the idea, though.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I see, you were there but have moved past it with the guidance of an angel. Wonderful that the understanding of one freed you from the misunderstanding of so many for so long. I suspect it was no coincidence he entered your life when he did. The more I learn about you, the more there is to admire and to enjoy about the self expression you share on these pages.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fortunately, as a balance, I have discovered multitudinous ways to err, to misunderstand, to screw up royally, and apologize. (Preferably without long-winded explanations.) Other people aren’t me, just as much as I’m not them. 😀

      Thanks for listening and for who you are, which is joyful to my mind.

      Like

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