Letters To My Ancestors

When their horses came thundering over the plain,

François, did you fear they would take you away?

Did you fear where they’d carry you, fear what they’d do?

Did you long for the sounds of the brown Rio Grande,

Or’d you look o’er the green and the grey French bayou,

And decide then and there this would be your new land?


When you put pen to paper, young Miles, did you see,

That in just half a decade, you’d be forced to flee?

To escape your death sentence for killing a king,

You would run to Virginia’s malarial hills.

Did you think that your children would fight, shout, and sing?

That in protest against a new king, they would kill?


Mary dear, when you left Éirinn green, did you guess,

As you packed away all that you owned in a chest,

All the tales of your homeland would soon be forgot,

And their songs and their tongue would be but memory?

But pray Mary, do not think all your pain was for not,

For to leave made it certain your children would eat.


Private Bennett, did you know, when you drew your last breath,

Or when you heard the cannon that omened your death,

Did you guess you’d have grandchildren bearing your name?

Why did you not let surgeons cut off your leg?

Did you think if you lost it your kin would be shamed,

Or did fear of the pain simply drive you to beg?


Oh, the questions I’d ask them before they were bones!

But all speech was halted by time and by stones.

This poem is about: 
My family
My community
My country


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