Daphne Major

     Daphne_diary

“The sisters of mercy / they are not departed / or gone.”
                                            –Leonard Cohen

In 1831,
     Darwin took his trip to Daphne Major and,
eventually,
     changed forever what it meant
for us to become.

There were new tortoises and platypuses,
     beetles and barnacles and blue-footed boobies,
and finches;
     oh, so many different finches!

It was the island herself
     who made them so many and so rich.
Her finite store of Tribulus seeds,
     her infinite tribulations and
utterly unique,
     volcanic experience prompting

rival siblings into individual species,
transforming their very beaks
     into more appropriate
tools of survival.

Many years later,
     a young girl, a true Tryphena,
saw her father, brother, mother
     between them encounter and endure

    War, then
     a still closer sadness,
a twin loss, a scarlet Tryphosa,
     and then, incredibly,
War again.

In 1953,
now with a newer sister beneath her wing,
the young woman took her own trip,
     discovering that, despite everything,
the Wars had not won.

There was a brand new queen
     with a divine prince husband,
lunch and champagne at
     Canada House, and

“Mary still out at 1:30 am – tut! tut!”

There was Mallorca and Barcelona
     and Nice and Cap Martin;
Capri and Sorento and Genoa,
Laocoön and the Vatican,
and, by all means, Rome.

There were the Carters and Stopford and
     Stephanie and Smitty,
Dora and the Casa Rosa,
     gin and oranges and quarrels with Jack,
“a very superior sort of type,”
and

“Julie and Dougie
have new house and puppy
— exciting!”

and there was wine
and dance,
and Mario picking flowers
“so very sweet.”

But more than all that,
     there were two sisters being
and becoming
     the closest of friends.

For the now many of us,
and, perhaps especially, for me,
this trip too changed forever
     what it would mean
to become:

Two sisters returned to
spur the evolution of our pulses –

with all of our differences;
for better, for worse;
when loving and not –

and forged the generations now
looking through their eyes.

[for Mary Tryphena Smith, née Wurtele, and Daphne Jane Moyle Abraham, née Wurtele]

 

(c) Michael Quentin Abraham, 2016.

 

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