A Quote by Elaine Christensen on body, certainty, children, church, colors, fatherhood, good, husbands, justice, learning, life, mathematics, mind, motherhood, parenthood, passion, people, spirit, struggle, and words

Heredity: the transmission of characteristics from parent to offspring; I sang in church today. My husband said I tucked my chin a certain way and he glimpsed my father. I often look for him. I have his lips, his small, rounded teeth, though when I smile, people say they see my mother. Startled, I've seen her myself in store windows. My father seldom smiled. He told me, as a child he sensed his spirit struggling, wanting to get out, wanting to fly, to be free. "Life," he said, "is learning submission: spirit to body body to mind." "Mathematics," he said, "is good for the mind." He asked what color were my threes, my nines. His were red and green. They stood in lines. I squinted, tried to give mine color, lied, said they stood in circles, counter-clockwise. And when he sang, oh, when he sang he placed each note perfectly, chin tucked, the tone, precise. "Sound should ring''', he said, "right out the top of your head." When I sing I forget where to breathe, how to use my head voice, how to stand, how to project, everything, except the words. For me it has always been words, not numbers, not tone, not mind over anything, just words and the passion they spell. My poems embarrassed him. They were not metered. They did not rhyme. Yet today when I sang, I tucked my chin and some faint seed of him flamed, some spark of him flickered. And those who knew him saw him in me.

Elaine Christensen (1948 -)

Source: I have learned five things, 1995 winner, Nat’l Fed’n StatePoetry Societies’ manuscript comp

Contributed by: Zaady