Sunday, June 04, 2006

Night of the ancestor

Football do's are notoriously tedious, bad food, awful music and small talk with strangers. Last night proved the exception with an indepth discussion about families and ancestors.

My own family has been traced back to 1497, but the period that has always interested me most was the Cornish mining migration in the middles 1800's. As tin mining waned in Cornwall there was a mass exodus to find work and among our group last night we found that each of us had ancestors that had supplied Austrailia, South Africa and America with new citizens.

Four brothers from my own lot emigrated to Ballarat, Austrailia and the other four went to Ishpeming, Michigan, in the US, branching out to Dakota and beyond. Their mother, Martha was left at home in Greensplat with four girls who eventually joined their brothers.
I have a photograph of Martha at the time of her husband Thomas' death, unfortunately I can't seem to scan the photo and blog it otherwise you could see the pain that is etched on her face.

I wrote about it instead:


The veil holds the years
forever locked in sepia
where my weeping heart cannot speak
of new mines in pristine lands
or the song of gold in the black hills

Twelve children borne
now scattered to the winds of change
I am orphaned
lured by the shiny dollar from our dying earth
they lined their nests
at the end of the Hudson

Until I fade
the rustle of my tidy taffeta
is hushed
remembering the day
that loneliness was mine
silence will follow down the years
whilst the bones hold the pose of his death.


Unknown said...

Wow how amazing that you have traced your family so far back. It's amazing the stories (and poetry) that can come out of so much history. But here's another snippet. The Cornish Tin Miners didn't only provide labour. Empanadas in Latin America are based on Cornish Pasties, but with that Latin American twist: tuna, tomato sauce and olives... yum. I think they also took football!

Susan said...

It's a lovely poem, Minx! Do try to find another way to copy that picture. You know, scrapbooking has a technique whereby you can get colour photocopying done on acid-free paper and the copy obtained will outlast the original pictures. Perhaps you could duplicate your picture that way and then it could be scanned.

Marie said...

Love the poem, Minx! It's great that you can trace your family so far back too.

qaiz said...

Incredible poem - stark images - wonderful words... !!


Art Durkee said...

I was born in Detroit, MI, spent the first half of my childhood in India (long story), then the rest in Ann Arbor, MI. I've even been to Ishpeming, at least once.

Turns out that on my father's side, I am Mayflower irish, which means I'm tenth generation here in the USA, but trust me, we're still pretty Irish. A couple of weekends ago we had a family reunion around my Dad's 80th birthday, and I came away with the realization, after meeting and talking to aunts, uncles, and cousins that I hadn't seen in decades, that we really ARE a family of redheads: you know, high maintenance, but lots of fun. And pretty witty on the verbal side, too. Huh. The Celtic diaspora continues apace.