Friday, April 8, 2011

Genealogy and the Refugee

Genealogy and the Refugee
Phyllis Wax

I know who my people are.

And there are some back home
who know my people too,
down to the seventh son of the seventh son
and hope to make me
the final son. I know

my lineage
but will not write it down
or chart it on software
lest they find me here.

My family tree must float on damp breath
from mouth to ear
parent to child
parent to child
like an orchid thriving on air
trailing names
and memories
and tales

because when it is safe to speak it aloud
and map it all out on paper,
there will be no archives to check,
no birth records or marriage
registries. Our neighbors
will all be dead, our homes in rubble.
And history will have been revised so many times
only my children’s children
will know.


Phyllis Wax writes in Milwaukee on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. Her poetry has appeared in Ars Medica, Verse Wisconsin, Your Daily Poem, The New Verse News, Seeding the Snow, A Prairie Journal, Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar as well as other journals and anthologies, both print and online. Travel, nature and the news inspire much of her work. She may be contacted at

No comments:

Post a Comment