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The vague shadow of an ancient oak pulsing
Like an image through static
Through drifting fog
So thick that only the wind
Can lift it and let slip
The outlines of
Where I began.

My ancestry is incompletely buried.
The sharp rocks of drunken nights
Slice upon the roots
Disfiguring, pummeling, smashing,
Rendering mute the stories their craggy hollows could tell
Dissolving in that same fear
My grandmother must have known so well.

I don’t know how to find her,
To reconstruct a broken form
From all of these pieces,
These fallen leaves that
Drift like secrets,
Like the ones my mother
Whispered to me in the dark
When I was nine and old enough
To hold them, to hold her,
When she fell apart.

Because they took them, you know.
My mother, her sisters, her brothers,
The county clipping the roots like
Plucking flowers,
Like it was nothing at all to scatter
Children in the wind,
Like fallen leaves upon the shallows
Of some lonely pond,
Like broken branches
Overpowered by a system that
Only wanted them
Gone.

So, you see,
It wasn't just the wind that ***** the tree,
But a system that decided
Whose voice to wipe away and
What to keep.

My ancestry is incompletely buried.
Sometimes, I'm sure I can hear her sobbing,
A broken, fragile song, emerging from the earth
Just where the roots, interlocking, stop
the dirt from completely blocking
The story of a battered woman
Buried for too long.

The vague shadow of an ancient oak pulsing
Like an image through static
Through drifting fog
So thick that only the wind
Can lift it and let slip
The outlines of
Where I began.

What if I run my hands along the bark,
The broken pieces, the empty spaces,
Where her voice might be?

Grandma, speak to me.
Breon Jun 21
Parade of bones, ride high
Filling up the whole sky,
Past where my hands can't reach.

Bleached by sun and twisting,
Hanging like chimes singing.
Dance on, something like free.

You'll be gone tomorrow,
Split and cracked for marrow,
Pouring out your lifeblood.

Down below, the living
Never got forgiving,
And it sure ain't easy.
I cannot remember people I never met. I can't tell the tales I was never told. How will they know me if I can't know them?
JT Nelson Jun 19
My Dakota plains
Broken by clusters of trees
That surround farms
Connected by black thin lines
Draped between poles
That follow roads

Or a shortcut across fields
On giant steel mannequins
Standing watch over
Corn, beans, sunflower
Or cows or horses
Or sheep

On My Dakota prairie
With rich black dirt
That feed crops
And sustain our towns
Our clusters of life
Our family and self.
While South Dakota is so much more than agriculture, our ancestry that came here generations ago dug their roots in deep and nurtured this place in our hearts. It is a beautiful place... sometimes harsh, but a glorious place to take in.
DG Feb 11
It smells just like her
It smells just like the woman who taught my mother to raise me
The woman who comforted me when it stormed
The woman who taught me to appreciate my German heritage
I miss her . . .
Gucci bloom smells just like my great-grandmother guys it’s freaky
Toxic yeti Jan 21
I go the land
Of my ancestors
The Himalayas
To bet with my brethren
And hope to find love
And enlightenment
As the prayer flags fly
I smile.
“I am the descendant of survivors,” I think as I reflect on the lynching trees.
I think of the pain, fear, and cautiousness that my ancestors experienced in their lifetimes.
The normalcy of it.
I think of how far we’ve come.
As a nation: one inch.
As my brothers’ and sisters’ force: eons.
There is so much pride I feel in their transcendence. I am here because they learned how to survive.
I wonder was it through power? Cowardice? Hiding?
How much does it matter? Isn’t there strength in whatever method works?
There are so many generations that did not make it. I am one of the lucky ones.
I get to live out the dreams that my ancestors cried out to the stars,
The ones they whispered into the void of a tunnel lit by a single flickering light,
The ones they inhaled from a friend after they bubbled up to the water’s surface,
The ones that danced in the breeze like the leaves on hanging trees.
I have the honor.
I have the pride of knowing they survived fear and turmoil for me.
The past is dark and grim, but the future is bright because now I hold the light.
Sometimes when people ask me what it means to be African-American, I tell them
It means to be lost.
Displaced from your real home; tribe; ripped from your roots --
But does it?
When I look up at the stars that may have guided generations of them,
Sometimes I feel as if I can see some of them blinking
Watching over me.
Francie Lynch Nov 2018
I am no longer a Roman,
Though my nose would differ.

I'm not Viking,
But my descendants have blonde and red hair.

I am a beneficiary of the dark ages,
The scriptoriums and monasteries
That brought the Greeks and Romans to life.

I am not Gael, though my eyes smile
When I hear the harp and pipes.

Neither am I Saxon nor Norman,
Victorious or defeated.

I, we, have metamorphized,
Casted of the moulted casement,
Spread dry wings and lifted,
Carried on fresh winds
To new worlds
To read, write, fish and hunt,
And I have gathered
My lineage,
Framed it in genetics on my wall,
To point at in fond remembrance
Of what I once was.
Do
not
be
like
me.
Nolite esse sicut me.
Please.
Sharon Talbot Jul 2018
I listened for an error but could not find
Anything to tell me that you'd erred.
The human voices were left behind
Among the dead, the long interred.
I wondered at the worry of a bard,
Whose penchant for making mosaics
Of dead and living shards,
Might wax a bit prosaic.

But 'tis nothing too commonplace for me!
I live in such a new land.
And look back where my roots might be,
Standing on a sunlit strand
And strain my eyes for thee.

And my ancestors who, distant, pass,
Clouded with poetry and pride.
The latter mean nothing, not even my last,
Grandparents who came here and tried.

Shoemakers, firemen and their wives,
Learned to dwell in a sprawling place.
But huddled like old Celts, converted, shrived,
As Saxon fires round them paced.

But all of that ended or so we thought,
One April day on a Lexington span,
Declared was freedom and dearly bought,
And a ****** new history began.

August 7, 2012
I was thinking about the ideals of some English colonists (and others) who thought that a revolution would change the New World into a paradise. We all know what happened, but the dream is still there...
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