A Genealogist’s Woes

Generations

1966
1926
1892
1851

Before blinking
I land in antebellum America
when prospectors were scouring
California for gold,
when Moby Dick was published
to tepid reviews,
when Portland, Oregon was named
by the flip of a coin.

And I breathe the family stories:
great-great-grandpa finding
a twenty dollar gold piece
at the end of the lane,
great-grandpa running the Model-T
into a tree in the orchard
and giving up on driving,
grandpa drifting in and out
of lives.

Not even fifty and I feel
centuries old,
carrying the weight
of others’ memories.

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