Friday, March 3, 2017

Magdalena Ball - City Child #8: Sporadic Traditions

Sporadic Traditions

When I was a child we celebrated holidays in sporadic traditions that came and went with my parents’  respective new partners, the changing landscape of a shifting homeland

the components of the small word “we” fractured and reformed into configurations of varied sizes and combinations against a growing hunger for regularity, stability, safety that sometimes translated itself
into real hunger, a permanent stomachache that turned my body into
a battleground

my stepmother-at-the-time was Catholic, her celebrations carved in
crossstitch wreaths against a pine-scented background like Norman
Rockwell of the seventies

the great egg hunt began as a way for my dad to get extra sleep on Easter morning
with a map under the pillow, clues from the “bunny” my brother
and I knew didn’t exist, though we followed his complex coordinates
and cryptic clues with tender excitement to find a basketful of chocolate 

the maps were no small achievement for my father in his tiny apartment
hiding spaces confined to the living room, kitchen bath, and the miniscule
bunked bedroom shared on access weekends with my brother and far too many cats

I haven’t kept those hand-drawn maps with mathematical formulas,
logic puzzles and clues—they’re long gone

even the marble eggs have disappeared into time’s bunghole
given away, pawned, left in the attic of someplace no one still lives in

life got more complicated than those maps during the turbulence 
of my parents’ failed marriages, failed religions, failed apartments, failed attempts at tradition
against the rising tide of entropy, the family nemesis, our one true tradition

those Easter hunts exist now in memory only, as reliable as the narrative
on which it is built, a point of light in a childhood often dark

beyond the chocolate and marble reward was a quest 
towards the normalcy we all craved
a basket full of unmet promises.


  1. I really enjoy these narrative pieces Magdalena. The immediacy is wonderful... within a line or two multiple veiwpoints appear and all sorts of facinating (albeit a bit sad but real) stories commence yet the child's voice commands the supreme attention.
    I re-read the final stanza and am still puzzled. Did you mean 'toward the normacy we all craved
    (yet) were (only) met by a basket full is unmet promises. ?
    Oh and not least last - great image with really beautiful tone.

  2. Thanks Jeffree. That’s a real picture (faded badly) from a Super 8 of me and my brother. And you’re right about the last line. I was trying to tie things up just as you say but it’s all too pat I think. I’ve removed the whole stanza.