Sunday, April 7, 2013

Family Order

Family order
Like clay mud on boots, traditions have clung to the feet of my ancestors, and I scrape the worst of it to compost the past into fertile soil of our future. Unconscious habits grown out of necessity become the burden of abundance in the mass markets of the present. Faced with the consequences of our acquisitions, we shed futile morals and fertile powers; can we set aside the competitive values in anxious times?

A vague reference to one of my ancestors having come to the new continent three centuries ago, sent me to moon time, I suffered many a stab from the nuns’ bamboo stick during class as I was far away from subject at hand, “are you on the moon again?” I would bow my head in contrition and keep planning my escape to my own continents, Africa, Australia, or America? The constricting of family life was as powerful an urge as the moves of my vagabond forebears.

From the people of the Auroch to the invading hordes from the wild central plains of Europe, riding on horseback around mountains, nomads ran in search of food and wealth. My own tribes traveled westward through dense forests and settled before the Ocean where they found sustenance for all. This was the uncluttered family model; male, female, progeny and a few elders, when the term may have meant anyone exceeding 27 years old in a cave, a hut, with pond or creek as haven and conceptual heaven.

The ambitious Roman armies roared across the crude settlements and toughened the natives who then were forced to build ramparts and fortifications to secure their new holdings; this was the beginning of the social cluster. The nascent village became the extension of the local nucleus as protective measure. I occasionally long for the earnest goal of singular security, of familiarity.

Together they built regiments of their own, rebelled and scratched their way to ownership of land and cattle. Then they fought the Moorish invaders, they lost their sons to the territories, bones of rebellion, terroir of today. Once the crusades were over and they had become the invaders of others, they came home to fallow lands and forgotten women; a frenzy of growth began to climb out of medieval oblivion and was named renaissance.

Family took a turn to heredity, of goods, of lands, of ease and disease. Traditions which were imported from exhausting travels through the Middle-East found their way to the hearth and reasoning of simple folk. Ceremonies meant as release from arduous work, grew to important cementing purposes to keep the family together, the people tight and the animals close by. Togetherness secured the clans like ligatures and hobbles on the chattel.

Family order was maintained at the cost of individuality, the good of the whole or the drudge of the one. Long past feudal loyalties and ensured serfdom, the old order remains in the manners, the habits of immigrants who have morphed their psyche to adapt to previous invaders’ codes. Sons born to protect the estates, sons to maintain the status, daughters to propagate the ideals, gathered between wars to conjure better weapons and cures for restlessness.

In the hinterlands, sons kept the perimeters safe from other intruders, they rang the bells to warn of danger to castle or fortified farm, women and children ran to enclosures. They awoke to ravaged crops and raven girls left afield. How little man has changed since; bells and whistles now ring across airwaves and women are savaged in the ruins of what fields produce for the increasing multitudes. Whose family is protecting whom when there is nowhere left to run, no land to conquer? except for family order.


  1. The nuns were scary in those days, which is one of the reasons I despised Catholic school. To this day I can't be around nuns, because I have bad memories of them.

    Enjoyed your description of cave people as well. They were a creative bunch; there are still paintings on cave walls in France to this day.

  2. katley, nuns are people too, i was subjected to the strictest and also was happy to meet some poets a

    nd artist Carmelites, i am fortunate to have had a range of experiences to enrich my 'story pool'..

    about caves, i was married in one 2 weeks prior to mandatory closing of the grotto. visitor's breath and perspiration acidify the underground environment which damages the prehistoric art. so many little known caves in the southwest of France..i have been fascinated by the heritage and collective consciousness there. it travels in my suitcase and sleeps on my pillow now, i shall share.

  3. michele, the dolmen in photo is that of " la pierre pese" near Civray (Vienne) north and east of my ancestral Charente... i regret to note there are so many ancient stones removed to make way for agricultural plans.. history gets in the way of machines. man plows under and blows up his roots. for profit.