Poem: Letter from My Ancestors



I read the following poem in The Best American Poetry 2006. It reminded me a lot of my own family.

You can learn more about the poet, Krista Lukas née Benjamin, on her website:  http://kristalukas.com/Home.html



Letter from My Ancestors

We wouldn’t write this,
wouldn’t even think of it. We are working
people without time on our hands. In the old country,

we milk cows or deliver the mail or leave,
scattering to South Africa, Connecticut, Missouri,
and finally, California for the Gold Rush –

Aaron and Lena run the Yosemite campground, general
store, a section of the stagecoach line. Morris comes
later, after the earthquake, finds two irons

and a board in the rubble of San Francisco.
Plenty of prostitutes need their dresses pressed, enough
to earn him the cash to open a haberdashery and marry

Sadie – we all have stories, yes, but we’re not thinking
stories. We have work to do, and a dozen children. They’ll
go on to pound nails and write up deals, not musings.

We document transactions. Our diaries record
temperatures, landmarks, symptoms. We
do not write our dreams. We place another order,

make the next delivery, save the next
dollar, give another generation – you,
maybe – the luxury of time

to write about us.


About Daniel Roddick

Daniel has a B.A. in American History with minors in both Ethnic Studies and Sociology. He also has an M.Ed. in College Administration and Counseling. Daniel has worked in the financial aid industry for over a decade. He has presented all over the country on financial aid issues related to equity, inclusion, and access to education. He is also a writer of poetry, fiction, and this blog, all of which touch on identity.
This entry was posted in Ancestry & Genealogy and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Poem: Letter from My Ancestors

  1. Krista Lukas says:

    Thank you for posting my poem. I’m glad it resonated with you and that you wanted to include it on your blog. Interesting that you come from a line of San Franciscans; I do, too. My maternal great-grandparents settled there, and my maternal grandparents grew up there. Certainly some of our ancestors knew each other or, at the very least, crossed paths.

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