© 2017 Molly Lamb. All rights reserved.

Take Care of Your Sister Statement

My first recollection of inheriting the belongings of someone in my family is when I was five years old. Consistently, throughout the years since, I have inherited the belongings of most of my family. This history permeates my experiences and perspectives, and it also now ends with my life. When I pass away, all that I hold dear – my stories, my belongings, and those of my family – will dissolve into a world that does not speak the language of our nuances.

Take Care of Your Sister is a meditation on the emotional resonance of loss, family history, and family future through the land – a landscape that is grounded in reality yet also distorted through time and displacement. It is the third chapter in a larger body of work and was inspired by visiting the Mississippi Delta where my father grew up and where my brother and I spent time with our grandparents when we were very young. When my father was a child there, he was asked to take care of his younger sister. When I was a child, the last words my father said to my brother were, “Take care of your sister.”

Without a family home to return to, the landscape becomes the place that harbors history and memory. The land engulfs and it provides respite. It haunts nightmares and it eases them away. I now live far away from the landscapes that make sense to me and give substance to my past, but I look for them here anyway. And I always return to them.

*  Part One

Moths circling and circling
uneasy yellow light
suspended
in speckled black
below the stars
and cicada silence.
Strong wind on the bridge –
dirt in the air, in my hair,
in the shades of darkness
where the light laps against
the water’s whirling
solid,
where they caught
moths
when they were young.
Here is not home.
He is not him.
Fields
rows
divides
dirt
cracks
where there is no rain.
Thick summer
clings to my skin
quietly urging
its way into my bones.
Ghosts in my eye
under the shroud cry
leave me here no more.

*  Part Two

For days,
I saw only solitary
birds.
Now they flock
and fly and
flood the sky –
inverse constellations
mapping
my insides.
Three hundred pictures of
branched wings pulse
unbound
and cloak the dogwood tree.
Red in the berries
in the bellies
in the leaves
in the gap before
winter’s edge
takes storm.
I return and
return
and return again
to the tree,
bare and empty,
waiting
for another spring.