In my family tree,
Prizing up the metaphoric rocks,
Pacing down the cemetery lanes
Taking rubbings of old tombstones,
Parsing ancient tax reports and census logs,
As the DNA runs down across the decades
To the box where my name gets inscribed.
Lots of farmers in torn overalls reside there;
A carpenter, some soldiers, frontier guide,
A railroad engine driver, miners, ranchers;
And it’s garlanded of course
With scores of women
Both delicate and strong, shy, bold,
Some adorned with buds and beads,
Some worn with care.
I see their names as windows to the past,
Flesh and blood relations
To populate the dusty leaves in books;
I look at photographs
Of bodices and beards
And almost hear their voices
Talking of their lives, their dreams,
Children, loves and grief.
And I’ve decided
That if I ever find him
I’ll not task him for his deeds
So long ago in time, so far away,
But ask him for a tale
I can pass on down the trunk
And share with others in the hope
That it won’t boggle their belief.