Each November, we visit them,
gathering ‘round their parlor, and again,
they tell their sad and ghastly tales of
bleak beginnings and hard times.
Aunt Minnie’s brother lost his way in a fog,
drove the wagon off Sparrow Wing Bridge.
Minnie spoke to her brother after he drowned;
he couldn’t go ‘til he stopped to say farewell.
Friends and the nameless came to the house
next day bearing what food they could spare.
Great Uncle Dex likes to share about
when his mama fell from the barn loft
onto a splintered wagon wheel.
“Leg turned purple as a plum,” he says.
They finally fetched a doctor to the house.
“Only at the threat of death did we
have money enough to pay for such.”
His mama lived, but the leg had to go.
Until she grew old, she got around,
did her chores, said her prayers
leaning on a hand-hewn crutch
Dex and his daddy whittled from oak.
When the old stories are told once more,
Grandma, her weathered face serene,
reminds us, “After all, we are only mortal,
meant to move on to another place.
Now, let’s all enjoy supper with kin.”
Then everyone fills a plate, talks and
laughs, kids doze off while chewing,
as the family ghosts listen from afar,
nodding heads, scratching beards,
humming sweet and low.
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