Sunday, November 27, 2011

Genealogy Research - a poem

Genealogy Research

I was kneeling in front of the gravestone
Wearing a faded pair of jeans
I had forgotten to bring my digital camera
But had remembered the charcoal and paper
I rubbed the grave, and read the results
November 11 1819
November 13 1820
The child would have been
One year, two days old when he died
The stone had to be wrong
This was the grave of my ancestor
I looked at the death certificate
I had found on the state website
And brought with me to the cemetery
1820 should be 1870
I stood up
And walked over
To my computer desk
Which was incomprehensibly situated
Between two nearby stones
I entered the data
Into my family tree
And then entered
My ancestor’s name
Into a database
The name of which I don’t recall
But I knew I had never seen it before
There was one result
And following the link
I was reading the diary
Of my fourth great grandma
Where she mentioned the name
Of the ship on which the family traversed
The Pacific ocean
I had thought they came from Europe
But apparently
They came by a more
Circuitous route
I entered the name of the ship
Into Google
And learned the passengers
Were ex-convicts
Exiled to Australia
Who commandeered a boat
And sailed to America
By way of Argentina
I returned to the diary
Of my fourth great grandmother
Only to discover
Someone had deleted it
From the database
And I hadn’t yet downloaded it
To my desktop

I woke up, clich├ęd sweat
Covered my forehead
I grabbed pen and paper
And wrote down everything I’d learned
Fully aware my dream
Was as reliable a source
As most of what I find
On the Internet
My only concern
I didn’t know the proper
Citation format

© John Newmark, 2011

Some prior attempts at poetry

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