The Ancestors

There was Frank, who returned safely home
from the war only to be murdered along the railroad
tracks walking out of a bar; like any soldier,
he really does not want to relive this irony.

And the beautiful melancholy Daisy, whose
gambling husband wandered off, so she took herself
out as dramatically as she lived, with a rifle
to her head. Do you really need to dredge her up again,
asleep in Jesus in her favorite nightgown?

Why pick on us, when we have been busy disintegrating
all these years, silently minding our own business
ever since we dropped off the mortal sphere?

Whose story would you next like to retell as though
it were your own? The hoarder recluse? The boy who
fell out of a high rise window? The aunt who died
in a house fire set by the wayward orphan she raised
as her own? The miner turned faith healer?

You already know the stories so I don’t know why
you have to go and dig us all up again and again,
as though there is something more to see here.

Sure, I guess we’re interesting in an eerie sort of way,
and it is clear there is something we offer you by proxy:
a kind of context. Though at times we question
whether you are just living vicariously through what
you have unearthed about us — that because
we came before you, we are a part of you.

I suppose that is true in a sense, but our stories
belong to us. These were not your lives, your losses.

These were not your orphans, your murders and
suicides, your deadly mine collapses and miraculous
faith healings, your plane crashes and car wrecks,
your broken bones and broken hearts, your wooded
hollows, your backyard inventions.

So before we roll over and return to our eternal nap,
we are going to offer you a bit of advice.

Live your own life.

And if you are lucky — or very unlucky — you will
create your own tales of drama for the generations
to come. And someday they will poke around at the dirt
in the family plot and you will finally know how we feel.
Now leave your flowers and let us rest.

Claire Juno, © 2015

…for my father.