My Aunt Sophia’s Poetry

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There have been many talented writers on my mother’s side of the family. I have several very creative cousins with a pen and aunts and uncles alike who have written beautiful songs, poems, and stories. I’ve often heard that the Loys were excellent storytellers, and I guess it’s true because I always loved listening to my uncles spin a tale or two. However, one aunt influenced me more than others to love words, her name was Sophia Alberta, and I wanted to dedicate my Author of November to her.

Most every year during the summer, my Aunt Sophia and Uncle Warren would come to spend a few days in Kentucky with my family, and it was always a treat. My aunt would bring me books, but even better than that, she would sneak me off to a bedroom, and we would sprawl across the bed, me wide-eyed and excited and her making a more significant impact on my young life than she probably ever realized. Sophia brought tantalizing titles I’d never heard of before, like Where the Sidewalk Ends, Where the Wild Thing Are, Puff the Magic Dragon,’ and The Cat and the Hat. She read poetry and stories that kept my imagination soaring, and I loved it. I loved her. For a moment, every summer, I felt very special. I guess it’s no mistake that she was a member of the Friends of the Library Committee that worked to build a new Ypsilanti District library. Books continued to be her passion.

Sophia had a love of education. Once her children were grown, she entered Washtenaw Community College and went on to Eastern Michigan University, where she earned a B.A. in Political Science in 1988 at the age of 54. Sophia was a published poet and wrote a column for The Saline Reporter.

I wanted to share a couple of her poems from a book she wrote called The Remembering Quilt. While reading through the book, it was hard to narrow it down to just a couple of poems because they are so well written and full of wisdom. I hope you will enjoy the pieces I have selected.

 

Beauty

Beauty is never fast.

It grows

Tall, slim, and white

In aspens and birches.

Pointing its green-tipped fingers

Toward the vast blue sky,

It stretches its strong, white arms

Silently, slowly beautifying.

 

Beauty is never dull.

It shows

Red, purple, and gold

In tulips, asters, and chrysanthemums.

Soaking up warmth from the sun,

It miraculously colorizes.

 

Beauty is never shy.

It frolics

In autumn trees,

Splashing each leaf with a gay hue,

Spilling red, orange, and gold

From its bushel of loveliness.

 

Beauty is never gone.

It stays

In white, silvery snow

Painting lake, land, and roof,

Catching golden shimmers from the sun,

Forever beautifying.

 

Lady Poverty

 In the dim light, I see her flabby mouth.

It sneers at one corner

Revealing her few decayed teeth,

A string of gray dirty hair

Hangs across her dull eyes,

Her colorless face is creased with wrinkles.

On her bent head sits an old hat

With a hole in the top.

Each time she fills my bowl

She wipes her bony, dirty hands

On her ragged stained apron,

I taste the thin soup;

A sickness rises in my throat.

Just as her sharp cold fingers clutch my arm,

I awaken to the pounding of my heart

And the shadows of the night.

 

 

Subdivision Sunset

 A subdivision sunset

Spills its splendor

Against a lot of square

Subdivision houses

Where inside a lot of fathers

Read black and white newspapers

And a lot of mothers fix

Bloody hamburgers,

While a lot of children

Watch square t.v.’s

In square rooms,

Not ever seeing

The round beauty of a

Subdivision sunset

Turning its color channel

Then hanging out the stars.

 

 

What is This?

 Songs of praise jumping off the stained glass windows,

Spirituality activated by walls.

Is this heaven?

 

Passive people slumping for inspiration,

Another Sunday dialogue.

Is this guidance?

 

Hymns such as, “Onward Christian Soldiers,”

Inspire the good people of this Nuclear Age.

Is this peace?

 

A few crumbs offered to the starving children

Out of the horn of plenty.

Is this compassion?

Judge not, said the peace-loving Christ,

But as long as Americans proclaim the Godhead

And buy the warheads,

There will be few swords beaten into plowshares.

 

Sophia Alberta (Loy) Wheelock

Born: Sat., Jul. 7, 1934

Died: Sun., Feb. 9, 2014

2 thoughts on “My Aunt Sophia’s Poetry

  1. I read and reread these poems by Aunt Sophia. What insight and intellect are captured; yet her realization of Beauty in it’s seasons reigns supreme in me. SubdivisionSunset and WhatIsThis comment in ways that strike the heart for sure. They are contemporary and timeless together. I imagine the nightmare of LadyPoverty strikes chords in your heart in a way also. “Beauty” stands alone to remind me that i have missed too many sunsets, taken autumn leaves for granted, and never really beautified my home’s garden with the seasonal flowers of colors galore. The culling of those particular effect of their comeliness is so tender. I am transported by the way snow covers the flaws of the views I may have from deck or yard or the barren look of trees as they hibernate. These beauties do stay in the way this poem warms the places in me that have been in the cold of not-heaven, in the fear of deprivation, and the true poverty of separate lives under one roof.
    You chose a heartful in these few words of Aunt Sophia’s…..you are a chip off that block and have gone on to paint many a wordful picture for me in your keen way. So thanks for sharing the special memories and the special selection you brought. Love you my sister.

    1. You always pull my heartstrings! What a wonderful compliment. My aunt had much suffering but persevered. Some even criticized her age of getting a degree, but this encouraged me to enter school at 30.
      I love you and appreciate your words and taking time to read my aunts poetry.

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