Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Dear Ancestor


Dear Ancestor
Your tombstone stands among the rest
Neglected and alone
The name and date are chiseled out
On polished marble stone
It reaches out to all who care
It is too late to mourn

You did not know that I exist
You died and I was born
Yet, each of us are cells of you
In flesh and blood and bone
Our blood contracts and beats a pulse
Entirely not our own

Dear ancestor, the place you filled one hundred years ago
Spreads out among the ones you left
Who would have loved you so
I wonder how you lived and loved
I wonder if you knew that someday I would find this spot
And come to visit you

(Walter Butler Palmer, 1906)


The photo is the grave marker of my 3rd great-grandfather, David Smith, who, along with his son Ahijah, were murdered by Confederate guerillas during the Civil War. The incident occured at their home in Fentress County, Tennessee.

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