Ancestors Unfold the Stories Untold*

Crows gathering by the hundreds
on barren trees
above break
the late afternoon silence
of this crisp January light.

Beneath them in a cave of cellular deep
a boy’s ancestors unfold, and


whispering into him
the stories untold:

of his great great uncle and his rescue
from the orphanage’s walls, of
the star fruit drying.
Of his father’s birth leading
to his grandmother’s dying.

Oblivious the woman eats dinner,
lays back down
and sleeps.

The ancestors knead into him
the traits he will keep;

He will have my long fingers
and graceful hands

And our square finger tips,
said the man.

All but one on each hand.

Then our square jaw,
aquiesces the man.

Chanting into him the stories
he won’t remember:

Of the giant mechanized birds flying
over the islands, bringing brides
and promises rising.
Of the grieving brother left
lying in the sand denying.

Voices louder like the oil around the sizzling plantains frying.

Ancestors assigning traits he will keep:

the muscle mass on his thighs
green-brown lace in his eyes.

The hair they concede will be a surprise.

Words-words will come easy
the storytellers gathered agree.
Humor enough for days, they make him
devious, short tempered-
yet measured in ways.

Great grandfathers bickered
and aunties chimed in;
He’ll carry which songs?
Resemble whose kin?

A young man being determined-
a boy not yet wrapped
in the millions of years
of expectations that are

breathed in
beat in
kissed and
and wished in

from his dark ancestor’s
and his light ancestor’s


Oblivious the mother woman now
rolls over
stretches and yawns.

Only half noticing the crows
cautiously calling to her- dawn dawn



*This poem written to honor the anniversary of what would have been Dixie Dale, my daughter’s birth (miscarriage at thirteen weeks) and believe it or not: the date of my son’s conception. Both dates attributed to January 12th, 2007. It is also the day the Maharishi broke his silence every year.  An auspicious day.  I am going to enter this poem in My Brown Baby’s yearly writing contest about “Something New”.


  1. Catherine! This is wonderful. You are such a gifted writer. Best of luck to you with the new site in this new year. So many things to be thankful for and to look forward to! I continue to follow your blog with enthusiasm, excitement, and inspiration. You inspired me to get blogging again, after 4+ weeks off. Face my emotions and vulnerability as a new adoptive mom. You are awesome! Hugs to Sam and Marcel.

  2. Wow. When you decide to write a poem, you really write a poem, and when you decide to reformat, you really re-format! They’re both beautiful — the poem and the blog. I’m so inspired by your exuberance!

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