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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Monday, August 04, 2008

"Unsettled": Preface Poem?

To give you a better understanding of the timing of this series (and an explanation of why it's taking more time than usual to write), it may help if I mention that this Thursday is the half-year mark since Mom's death. This past weekend all of my siblings came from the Detroit metro area to our house in west Michigan for a three-day get-together (culminating with the best fireworks we've ever seen). Lots of early morning chats over coffee, evening bocci on the lawn, and late-night talks by the campfire. It was a relaxing change of pace for all of us.

I have begun writing these "Unsettled" posts as my siblings and I begin the difficult, sad, reflective business sometimes called "the settling of the estate," which includes the question of when to sell the homestead. We are fortunately not under any particular pressure, but we are realists and know that as soon as is prudent... someone else will be calling our land "home." If so, I want to leave a draft of these chapters on the kitchen counter of the house. If they were to someday need a preface, I might settle for this short piece below that I wrote many years ago.

It would be especially fitting if the title, which I've not settled on, indeed remained "Unsettled," because the storyline makes use of forms of the word "to settle" (or unsettled as the case may be). Set can be an adjective meaning "established" as in "he was set in his ways" or "the date was set." It can mean "equipped to proceed" as in "We were all set to begin." Set can also be a verb (e.g. "the cement began to set"). The verb "settle" can mean "to take care of" as in "to settle an estate." It can mean, to accept something less than what was hoped for as in "he settled for a place in the suburbs."

In this story, settle often uses the meaning: "to make a homestead of unsettled land as the "settlers" did.

And obviously settle can also refer to how things are finally resolved, how they "end up." It is for this latter reason that this short poem with its line "...dust is a kind reminder that some things settle on their own" may be a fitting preface to these unfolding chapters.


Sorting through some attic shelves
(in search of something else)
I came upon a book
I’d left half-read some summer past.
A memoir of a life it was
that evidently held
less interest than my own
once the clock began again.

In truth it seemed not long ago,
and though I do not know
whether I passed time
or time passed me,
dust is a kind reminder
that some things settle on their own.

And as I brushed away the proof,
my finger caught the corner of a bookmark,
a photograph I must have used
to hold my place those many years ago.

How strange to find it there—
a snapshot I’d forgotten
of a memory all but lost
I took the bookmark in my hand
and, happily, it took me back
and made me laugh again.
© Copyright 2007, TK, Patterns of Ink

Photo Note: That's me in the left side of the tractor bucket (with my friend Bob J. and our BB guns). Dave and his friend Don E. are on the back fenders, and my little brother Jim is in Dad's lap. Mom is taking the picture. The year is 1969. But I'm getting ahead of myself. The next posts hint that, though Mom was taking pictures and excited about the land, she still had some "unsettled" feelings about the eventual changes ahead. After that, we'll come back to these days of tractors and "settling" the land.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every time, well nearly every time, I go back to my home-town I drive past the two homes that I grew up in. The first one was where I was born to and grew to be 10 years old in. That one still has the tree-swing my dad made for me. It's an old oak tree that was old back when I was young. Last summer was a class reunion and I was driving around town with 2 former class-mates. The driver drove up into the yard of this place and the now-owner came out and spoke to us. It's amazing how small the yard AND the house are now!
The other home is where I lived until I married at 20. Oh..such bitter-sweet memories BOTH afford me! I yearn to go back and knock on the doors and ask for a tour (please) to see the changes.

4/8/08 8:07 AM  
Anonymous quilly said...

Your prose, as always, is lovely. I think, if I were so lucky as to be the next person to call your land "home", that I would very much enjoy finding your memoir on the counter.

The poem, too, is lovely. And some things do, indeed, settle on their own. ;)

4/8/08 2:55 PM  
Blogger Family Man said...

It's been almost 15 years since my mother passed, but there are times I too find myself "unsettled". I often think of my children, and the lost opportinities they have for not having her in their lives. I do stop to realize that she is with god, and watching over them, which does give me comfort.

4/8/08 3:44 PM  
Blogger Dr.John said...

Went through all of that. Sold the old family house. I still miss it. My dad and my two grandfathers built it themselves with a little help from the uncles.

4/8/08 6:29 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

I do the same thing whenever I'm in a former home town. This particular parcel of land has been ours for forty years.

Do you know how long that spelling error has been in that poem? Since the first draft! Good catch there!

Family Man,
That's about how long it's been since my father passed (13 years). You're right, though, there is great comfort in the lasting legacies our parents' faith and lives can give us.

Dr. John,
Isn't it great to have had a place in our lives that was "settled" by those we love. Even when the place is gone and, as is true of the loved ones, we miss the place... it's a blessing to have known such a thing in life.

4/8/08 8:54 PM  
Blogger the walking man said...


As the dust descends
forming the soil of memory,
we find that, it allows
for a deep shaft sunk
to mine out the memories
of days gone past.

No digging is done
without a bruised knuckle,
scraped against
the thought of person
and events gone by.

Ever a poignant thing,
this digging
in the Fields of Yester.

MD 8/05/08
to his friend Tom

5/8/08 2:47 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

How cool is that! To have your spontaneous gift triggered by the thought of "dust" and settling. I love the image of digging without the scrapped knuckle. Not only have I experienced that in digging narrow holes, but I do find that not feeling it is almost always true as I "mine" my past and post things here at POI. These lines belong to you in some future collection, but thanks for leaving them here, M.D., our walking man friend.

5/8/08 5:01 AM  
Blogger heiresschild said...

hi Tom,

i met one of my blogger friends in 2006 in CA, and she took me on a tour of different parts of CA, including the house she grew up in and had remained her Mom's until a few years ago. while we were sitting there talking and looking at the outside, the owner came home, and my friend and I knocked on the door, telling the new owner it was previously her home, and the new owner allowed us in and gave us a tour, showing us changes that had been made. she even invited my friend back, along with her Mother. it was really nice.

one good thing i like is that you and your siblings are able to conduct business in a friendly and civilized manner. so many families are torn apart by things like this. that's another tribute to your Mother and Father.

it would be really nice if one of the grandchildren or nieces/nephews bought the home to keep it in the family.

i love the gift of poetry.

7/8/08 10:27 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Good to hear from you. Congratulations on the birth of the twins out there in CA.
I have had experiences like the one you mention, usually at the house where Mom was born but also at the house in Roseville (though I have not been in that house since 1975). It's strange to think of doing that with this house someday. The main reason I'm writing this now is I've always meant to for the family, but another reason is to help convince some future owner of the land not to tear down the house. You see, if a developer buys the land, Mom's house may not be where they want it in the lay-out of new homes, etc. But I would hope they'd understand that this house--though not the grand kind of houses built today--would be the "crown jewel" of any homes built around in on the land.

8/8/08 6:45 AM  
Blogger Donnetta Lee said...

Such a true writer. Lovely poem. My mom is still here--but probably not for long. I don't know that I'll be able to "settle" anything without her around. She's my best friend. Lovely thoughts, my friend.

8/8/08 7:57 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Donnetta Lee,
Thank you. It's been a while. Hope all is well. Mom's death sometimes seems long ago and other times as if it hasn't yet happened.
Another irony is happening to me. As we are sorting things out in Mom's place (lots of work left to do there) Julie and I are helping my daughter and son-in-law "refurbish" a forclosed house they just closed on this week. Lot's of elbow grease, paint, plumbing, "handy-man tasks" etc. are keeping us up late, but the progress is rewarding.

Strange to be at the first-house excitement stage with them--so much fun to work like that again--and to be at the "settling the estate" stage with my Mom's house. At any rate, it's why I'm a bit behind in my posts.

8/8/08 9:37 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

I feel almost caught up... I learned news about your mom's house and your daughters house. A bittersweet time in your life... alpha and omega!

What a neat idea to leave a copy for the new owners... touching indeed! You have a big tender heart.

11/8/08 7:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom - Did you ever teach in Muncie Indiana?

30/9/08 10:44 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Yes. Julie and I taught there one year. 1981-1982 I beleive. We have fond memories of our time there. I love mysterious questions like this. If you'd rather follow up via email. I'll leave an email address in the next comment for a little while and then delete it.

30/9/08 6:47 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

In the spirit of this post.
If you'd like to connect to Julie or me but not in this comment section, I'll briefly post an email address:


30/9/08 6:49 PM  

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