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Weekend Coffee Share

January 17, 2015 12 Comments

#Weekendcoffeeshare

#Weekendcoffeeshare

If we were meeting for coffee we would use our teleporting cloaks to visit different parts of the world.  This is a weekend to take an imaginary trip to a Paris coffee house.  The pace of current events has been swift and frightening.  Sophisticated cosmopolitan citizens are shaken.  Let us sit in the corner with scarves drinking dark roast coffee with hot frothy milk.  At this moment let’s take in the vibe of our fellow customers and feel the anxiety flowing through the waiter, and into the pastries on the counter.  Our conversation is hushed and our gazes are focused on each other.  I feel a refuge in the stories you tell me about your week, your writing, your will to survive in grace and beauty.  We are comfortable gently criticizing or joking about our private lives, but are concerned about public life.  This is a propitious time in history.

I often think about history because of my study of my family tree.  This hobby/obsession has improved my knowledge and sense of history by revealing the stories of my ancestors.  I frequently notice the differences as well as the similarities between my ancestors alive at the same time.  This week I have done research on two topics that have given me superb insights into historical events.  I learned that my 15th great-grandfather was a famous poet who was executed by Henry VIII on 19 Jan., 1547 at the Tower of London.  I read and listened to his poetry, which I admire and like.  I decided to write a poem in honor of his beheading.  I hoped to create a Monty Python or Dorothy Parker style witty ditty about Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey to commemorate the 1468th anniversary of his death.  Nothing rhymes with beheading.  Howard and Surrey both summon up a set of unflattering words that are not very funny at all. This comedy execution poem haunted me for a couple of days before I gave up the limerick format.  I wrote one today, but it contains no humor.

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey

The other subject of my genealogy research this week has been my own Confederate soldier ancestors and the ownership of slaves.  I have searched through census records before the Civil War and learned that my 3rd great-grandmother owned land before the war in Old Cahawba, Alabama. This is now suburban Selma.  Her husband died young and she had a patent on119.91 acres of land in the old capital of Dallas County.  Her family lived with her until after the war, when they all moved to Texas.  The family arrived in Texas by oxcart and bought land with gold.  Her son and grandson both served the Confederacy, but there is no sign that this family ever owned slaves.  I looked back in time until I did find slaves in Mississippi on the maternal side, but the Taylors were too poor or morally opposed to the idea.  When they moved to Texas they started a church and deeded part of their property to the church.  I have wondered a lot about the journey and the gold, but now that I know how difficult story poems are to write, have not dedicated myself to telling this history in a poem.

Elizabeth Armer's land

Elizabeth Armer’s land

Thanks for hanging out this weekend in our imaginary coffee house.  I look forward to hearing your stories and finding out how you are feeling this week.  I appreciate sharing this delicious time with you, gentle reader.

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