Breach

Who shall remember my house, where
shall live my children’s children…
                       -T. S. Eliot, “A Song for Simeon”

Old photos in a box, print after print, stories
missing of those who entered the frames
then stepped away, shaking off memory
misstep, faded joy.

Great-grandpa, six months old
sitting in a high pram frowning into his future.

Auntie Nell dancing on the table through the gin
flinging skirts like Gracie Fields
war songs louder than the sound of gunfire
in the sands of Libya where Uncle Alf fell.

In another province, two brothers not speaking
voices lost to each other, memory subtracted
and here, a niece broken by judgment
dismissed to hell by an old man
and old woman.

What was done, then undone years and years ago.

Dancer, baby, the man standing, the old woman
trying to smile in a photo yellowed at the edges—
stories written on my eye
and blood, my bone.

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#ancestors