Deadwood, South Dakota; Autumn 2015

Whether you lie beneath a heavy slab of stone,
that bears your name, your birth, your death;

Or beneath the dampened earth, slick with fallen leaves,
A grave that time has forgotten and neglected,

Know I search, ancestor.

I may not yet know your name,
Or when you lived or loved or died.

You may yet be lost to me, hiding
Within the branches heavy with leaves.

Know I discover, ancestor.

In the smallest drop of red, or in the rivers blue,
That twist and curve upon my pale skin.

Each twine a root, a branch of my family tree;
Fingers trace our shared history.

Know I feel, ancestor.

A faint whisper, ethereal;
Quick to turn, disappear.

And yet, again you return;
A reflection.

Know I see, ancestor.

Dreams in which you visit;
Faded feathers upon the ground.

Against the dreary landscape,
The red of a cardinal appears.

Know I hear, ancestor.

Generations pass, names lost.
Faded in time like etchings on stone.

But like the mighty oak, whose
Roots run deep,

Know you endure, ancestor.


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