The Strength of Roots
A forgotten graveyard, tumbled
remnants of a pioneer's home,
the white flaking fence and crumbled rails
long overruled by brambles and vines.
Great and grand parents are here,
chiseled in stone, their small blocks
in cool grass beckon sit and rest awhile.
Not, we hope, forever.
We find the site, once discovered,
lost again, an infant's final resting place
tenderly tucked in the roots of an oak, marked now
by acorns and a tangle of thicket, while
in town by the brick church
and colonial pilasters, exterior aisles
of well-trimmed boxwood, hovering yews, a marble
sarcophagus rules the rolling green.
My cousin and I tiptoe around the
cold box, trace with warm fingers
the weathered inscriptions, try to
understand what somebody said about
our obviously honored ancestor,
imagine him (with his barely mentioned wife)
in snug leggings and waistcoat, cradling the baby
who lies under the oak, siring all those others
who, two hundred years later, became
my cousin and me.
The Strength of Roots was previously published in The Lucid Stone, 1997.
Patricia Wellingham-Jones is widely published with an interest in healing writing and the benefits of writing and reading work together. Twenty years ago she got fired up about genealogy and wound up researching, writing and publishing five family histories.