I was a proud Norwegian American –
I eat a lot of herring,
also lefse, smorbrod, and other things
you would consider tasteless.
I savor every page of Sigrid Undset
endure Ibsen, love the lush music of Grieg,
have a photograph
on the wall of the stave church
where my family was married.

I call it Jul and hang heart baskets
on my tree.
I tried rosemaling
but I am not very good at it.
When Trump was elected
my expression resembled
the most famous picture
of our artist Edward Munch.

Now I would like to be
a proud Haitian American,
a proud Sudanese American,
a proud Salvadoran American.

I was a proud Norwegian American,
but not so much these days —
though the truth is
that I am not so much embarrassed
at the first part of my heritage.
as deeply ashamed at what
is becoming.

Photo – me in front of the Norwegian gift of a tree in Union Station Washington DC December 2017
Photo credit Betsy Thomassen

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11 Responses to Heritage

  1. Joyce Ray says:

    I hear you, Maren. Please resist the urge to feel embarrassed because a person in power has elevated your heritage at the expense of others. You are not the one who has elevated one above another. I am sad, too.

  2. Darla D Ledger says:

    Excellent. I have a friend living in Norway whom I met years ago as an exchange student in Sweden. I plan to send this to her!

  3. Maren says:

    Thanks — that will be wonderful!

  4. Corrine Slaughter says:

    Your work is much appreciated.

  5. revsue91 says:

    My sermon today (most recent blog post) expresses similar sentiments. Except—even though I served the UCC congregation in Decorah. IA, a town that is very Norwegian—my heritage is pretty much English, Irish & German. (But I feel a special affinity for France.)

  6. Maren says:

    I haven’t lived in Iowa since ’69! However those years I was coming every year to teach in CENTER LEARN.

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