Robin Helweg-Larsen – Jam Jar

Robin Helweg-Larsen
Jam Jar

In the night’s jam jar of my memory
My long-dead parents live as fireflies.
My thoughts of them worn by time’s emery,
Their faint light still suggests where my path lies.

Barbara E. Hunt – Mending

Barbara E. Hunt

How sibling, best friend, parent, child
can be that thread which snags

or wears, though shot-straight-through
our steadfast hearts, unravels

letting latched twines loosen
to slump the weave to nothingness.

Sharp tool. Tough line. Taken beyond
the tattered edge by patient hand

to backstitch; somehow recreate
our interlocking strands.

Dianne Kellogg – Monotropa Uniflora

Dianne Kellogg
Monotropa Uniflora

Monotropa Uniflora:
Ghost Pipes, Indian Pipes, Corpse Plant
pale, wax museum flower
sequestered in the deep Beech forests
of three continents, rare.
Step softly
on the leaf litter, humus, moss
translucent stems won’t bend.
Found with mystical Druid stock,
relies on the ruminations of Russulaceae,
mushroom cud, that nestles without
light or air
parasite on parasite,
three generations,
two manifestations
emanations from a buried
Beech tree root.
Tread softly
ghosts tolerate temporal creatures
parasitic or fruitful
but barely.

Dianne Kellogg, Ghost Pipes, digital image, 2018.

Lynn M. Knapp – Elizabeth

Lynn M. Knapp

I did not expect to find her here,
faded, folded, held in darkness
in a dusty box,
my grandmother’s
I did not expect
to know her,
a woman
from muddy streets
of warring Missouri,
lifting blue sateen skirts,
in laced kidskin boots,
skirting puddles,
pleat-edged bonnet and stray curls
lifting on the breeze.
I did not imagine
a glint in pale blue eyes,
quenched these many years,
could still hold me.

Felicia Mitchell – A Poem for Lost Ancestors

Felicia Mitchell
A Poem for Lost Ancestors

I wonder who they are, the missing links,
as I stare at a few small red strips on a DNA report
that reflects the history of the peopling of South Carolina
in my one genome.
All my ancestors travelled far to make me, I know,
and I know so many of them, already,
but not all of them.

There was an underground railroad.
I think there was another railroad
some of my ancestors had to travel too.
It ran not from south to north or east to west
but from generation to generation,
their lineage stitched in the pockets of genes
as invaluable as silver coins sewn into skirts.
With each child born, another coin spent,
colour in South Carolina determined who went in what door
or drank at what water fountain
and who stayed home to clean house
or who married whom and who moved
to Paris, or another neighbourhood, to start over.
I want somebody to take me there,
to that point of departure when
a trade was made, unfair as a fast train
spiriting away a girl coloured by a society’s prejudice and fear.
I close my eyes and see her waving from the metaphorical train,
waving at everyone who came before her as she passed on
and into me—so white she has become a ghost of herself.
I want to call back and call her Granny.

Joyce Parkes – How

Joyce Parkes
                   in memory of Jeanette Dubois

The mother of my father
married the brother of her mother.
Her maiden and her
married name were the same.
Telling my dentist that I too had

a Jewish grandmother, he smiled.
To be a Jew, one’s mother
must be one as well.
Might a DNA test tell, nowadays?
The dwellings of my father’s

mother in the monsoon of her
years leaves me to
wonder, in the winter of mine,
how I was related to
Jeanette Dubois, my Tante,

who was beaten to death
for smuggling salt into
an internment camp built in
Bandung – a city once
known as the Paris of Java.

Meryl Stratford – Ancestors

Meryl Stratford

As surely as Walt is the ground we walk on—
carpet of grass,
dust under our feet—
Emily is the sky,
fierce as falling stars,
granting no wishes,
hymnist and heretic
jury of one.
Keep watch over your borders,
Lady of the Loaded Gun.
May we
open your book nor read your
poems with their
quaint capitals and
restless dashes, with their
syntax slight askew
too carelessly.
Unique soul,
vestal in
exuberant bacchante,
you leave us
Zero at the Bone.

Jennifer Davis Michael – Family Music

Jennifer Davis Michael
Family Music

We sleep chastely at your parents’ house:
you in the basement, full of silent history,
I among the relics of your boyhood.
Tonight, I lie awake under a quilt
stitched by hands I will never know.

I listen to the household symphony:
you and your mother doing the cooks’ dance,
your sister showering before her graveyard shift,
dog and baby pattering staccato on the floor,
ignoring papa’s deep-voiced directions.

I hear this music only from backstage.
To hear it is to know, not them, but you
–my new love, bringer of strange melodies–
as I drift to sleep here in your childhood bed,
alone but wrapped in a seductive tune.

Meryl Stratford – Modern Math

Meryl Stratford
Modern Math

I am one-half her—
the baby of the family,
the girl who was good at math,
who wanted to be a teacher,
the girl who never learned to swim,
the homemaker, the baker of apple pies,
the beachcomber, the bridge player,
the reader of mysteries,
the woman who never
drove a car, or voted.

I am one-half him—
the youngest of twelve,
the boy whose father spoke only German,
the poor boy with only a sweater
to wear in the winter, the smart boy
who graduated early,
the draft dodger,
the union organizer,
the man who worked
forty years in a factory,
the man who loved Great Books
and butterscotch candy.

David Subacchi – Closing That Door

David Subacchi
Closing That Door

Philip has traced his ancestry back to medieval times
He tells me proudly,
He has researched church registers and graveyards,
Looked at state census records on and off line,
Investigated old Welsh newspapers
Now captured on microfilm;
There is very little more he can do
He says, the picture is complete.

He asks if I have done anything similar,
I tell him ‘No’ and his eyes widen,
So I explain that before 1913
All my family history is in Italy;
Things take longer over there
And are less accessible,
The storage of records
Interrupted several times by warfare.

He nods and I think he understands
But I’m not sure,
He suggests various search engines
While I think only of gazing
Into the vacant eyes of officials
And the pain of unanswered letters;
I thank him for his kind advice,
Mentally closing that door.