Tuesday, November 9, 2021

The Seeds of Optimism


I was raised

by a self proclaimed 

black sheep 

who was raised 

by a self proclaimed 

black sheep 

Now, I never saw

the color of the sheep 

that came before them

but I am told 

they were shorn

too shortly to tell 


Identity butchered 

by Mennonite preachers 

rumored descendants 

of Huguenot exodus 

Seasoned with myths

of Yiddish tradition 

A boiled dinner history 

stuffed into the pressure cooker 

of German nationalism 

That’s enough to drive anyone 

to the immigration boat

Flight from fascism 

left everything behind 

except for the fight

turned us into 

aetheistic mystics

We named our children Gypsy

Became agnostic rabbi storytellers 

protest songwriters 

and rebel school teachers 

Hope was blackened 

by the charcoal pits of 

fire and brimstone incinerators

Ironic that after a few generations

cremated constitution

makes for 

fertile soil in which to dig

Makes for 

childhood memories

of eating sweet peas

out of my grandmothers garden. 

So, if we dig up the ground we stand on

aren’t we supposed to plant new things?

Even if it takes a few seasons

Whether it is an intentional bulb

that comes back year after year

full of blooming potential 

or a wild seed in the wind

that sprouts from the accidental act

of slipping into the concrete cracks

it plants... something... every time

My grandparents planted seeds of optimism

within me throughout my life

and they always seem to sprout

just when I need them to

My parents still wrestle with 

the ancestral weeds of pessimism

that perennially persist

But on a good day

if I remember to look at them 

in a loving way

it looks like old growth forest 

and European wildflowers

I would like to be a gardener too

at least on the inside 

I don't think we are supposed to 

watch the weeds grow so thick

that they choke the plants that bare fruit

Nor are we supposed to mow it all down

only to watch it start again from scratch

But we cannot cut the dandelions

that feed the bees

if we really love honey

Now, I don't like to get stung

but I really love honey

and dandelions

and fruit

and sowing seeds

and warm sweaters

knit from the wool

of self actualized 

black sheep

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