I really had the best intentions of transcribing a few of Joseph B. Kingsbury’s letters every week and posting them on this blog. Really, I did. But as you can see from my last post being more than two months ago, I obviously didn’t succeed. Maybe I need some more Kingsbury family members to post their stories here (hint hint). I welcome other contributors and will gladly give you publishing privileges if you’re interested.
As usual, work got busy and I was posting a lot on my other family history website http://www.trovandofamiglia.wordpress.com, which captures the stories of my husband’s Italian immigrant ancestors. During the month of April, when I’ve had any time to write, I’ve been participating in a blogging challenge in honor of National Poetry Month that you can find at http://www.napowrimo.net. Maureen Thorson, the woman behind NaPoWriMo.net posts an optional prompt each day in the month of April. The idea is to write 30 poems in 30 days. She also posts interviews with poets, examples of poems and features a poem each day from the participants in the challenge. If you like poetry even just a little, I’d encourage you to check it out. If you search #napowrimo you’ll find poems written by people from all around the world who are participating in the challenge.
Today I posted the poem for Day 10, (yes, I’m running a little behind on that challenge too) which called for a portrait poem. Here’s the optional prompt:
Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that is a portrait of someone important to you. It doesn’t need to focus so much on what a person looks (or looked) like, as what they are or were. If you need inspiration, here’s one of my favorite portrait poems.
from Maureen Thorson on napowrimo.net, April 10, 2017
So here’s my response to that prompt, which just happens to be about a very special member of the Kingsbury family – my grandfather Joseph Bush Kingsbury – third son born to Wayland Kingsbury and Flora Jane Bush. My mother always called him Father Kingsbury, my cousins called him Papa Joe, to many he was Professor Kingsbury but to me he was always Granddaddy Kingsbury.
The smell of fresh pipe tobacco lingered after he was gone
But memories of our time together lingered longer.
Long walks after dinner – sometimes talking, mostly walking.
Afternoons at the big dining room table that never hosted family dinners
Playing Russian Bank – a form of double solitaire.
Visits to my third grade class to tell of his world travels.
Feeling so special as my classmates sat in rapt attention
listening to stories of his life in Thailand.
Water buffalo and beautiful dancers in golden crowns with wrists so supple that fingers bending backward could almost touch their wrists.
When my grandfather visited, I was important – someone who mattered.
Not just at school but at home.
When my grandfather visited, his son stopped drinking for a while.
My parents stopped fighting for a while.
We were a ‘normal’ family for a while.
My grandfather was my portal to the world.
With his stories and his support
I got to see the world
and I realized that my world was not all there was.
With his quiet voice and thoughtful, measured speech
He taught me to listen.
With his never-ending encouragement and example
He taught me to seek adventure.
With his patience and kindness
He taught me compassion.
With his unfailing belief in my abilities,
He taught me to believe in myself.
Oh, how I’d like to take an after dinner walk with him now.
Slowly walking, quietly talking.
Or play a game of Russian Bank at my dining room table
(that has hosted many family dinners.)
Alone together again.
© Kalen Kingsbury 2017