Relations–Elizabeth Hogan

I can tell people are waiting for me.

Down the stream of my blood

they are sailing on a cruise of years.

Landlocked in life, they braided soil

spirit rising with the corn

busy, growing life, they had no use

for family trees, except perhaps

at christenings and quilting bees.


Seed of my flesh, from farm and forest they rise again

stretching the storeroom of my skin to bursting

with reminiscence of raspberries and wild roses

along the river.


I understand these husks of memory, tribal cues,

strapped to their berth of earth

my golden ghosts make room for me

exact their due.


Meanwhile they tell me what they think.

Talk about duty and honesty, a kinsman’s crown

embroider hard work in a fire of fields

sun in the palm of the hand

brass coin that multiplied the crops

and polished itself on the land

when they were lucky, in good years

and now I know

the family gold is buried

near tassels twitching like whiskers

of remote grandfathers.


Always they are stirring up

old droughts and drafts and dust

I test their pulse in mine with longing

and mistrust

a silo

on these city streets

I hoard the last grain


by their hands. I am the way

in or out of

their demands.

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