Tonight the veil between the worlds is said to be thinner than any other night of the year. On the Isle of Ancestors tonight I was met by my Grandmother and Great-grandmother, who helped me rewrite a poem. I visited with my Grandfather and considered the difference between memories we form ourselves and memories that we learn from others. As I wandered across the Isle, I came to a rippling stream where I was not at all surprised to find my father fishing.

Not all ‘ancestors’ on this Isle have passed beyond the veil. Just upstream from my father, I found my mother casting her line across the riffle in the fading twilight. “What are you doing here?!” I asked, surprised.
She smiled and answered, “fishing.”

The following poem was written for my mother, Zetta Benson Peterson. On her next birthday she will be ninety. Besides being a first class fisherwomen, my mother was a professional dancer and a dance teacher, as I was myself. When she was carrying me, she couldn’t keep down anything but water-cress and lemon-lime soda. She has always said that I “entered dancing.”

I Learned

They would ask me . . .
How long have you been dancing?
When did you begin to learn?
Were you four?
Five?
Who did you learn from?
What lessons did you take?

I danced
I said . . .
Before I drew my first breath
For my dancing soul learned joy
Before my mortal body was complete
I danced
I said . . .
From the beginning
I learned
I said . . .
From the heart that beat around me then
A halcyon heart full of sunshine and peace
In the safety of the dark and warm
I first felt the promise of a world of love
And I danced . . .
For joy

~ Edwina Peterson Cross ~