I don’t research my genealogy
or cling to family artifacts — yet
I walk in graveyards, read the stones,
picture lives from earlier years, visit
antique shops, flea markets, a vanity fair,
imagine cooks, craftsmen, farmers
plying their tools, and sense the pride
they might have felt possessing
ceremonial and decorative objects,
and I am saddened by the reality
of impermanence, of forgotten dreams,
now for sale, and I think of my own cache

the faded snapshot of my paternal
grandmother who wears a long
gingham dress and holds a tiny kitten,
almost certainly a-wiggle

Mother’s china doll which I hate,
residing in a box labeled Lands’ End

Uncle Willie’s medal for rhetoric and history
awarded by Erskine College

the teaspoon of coin silver that bears
the tooth marks of my infant father

and I am overwhelmed by ties to the past.