Friday Poem

Letter from My Ancestors
.

We wouldn’t write this,
wouldn’t even think of it. We are working
people without time on our hands. In the old country,

we milk cows or deliver the mail or leave,
scattering to South Africa, Connecticut, Missouri,
and finally, California for the Gold Rush –

Aaron and Lena run the Yosemite campground, general
store, a section of the stagecoach line. Morris comes
later, after the earthquake, finds two irons

and a board in the rubble of San Francisco.
Plenty of prostitutes need their dresses pressed, enough
to earn him the cash to open a haberdashery and marry

Sadie – we all have stories, yes, but we’re not thinking
stories. We have work to do, and a dozen children. They’ll
go on to pound nails and write up deals, not musings.

We document transactions. Our diaries record
temperatures, landmarks, symptoms. We
do not write our dreams. We place another order,

make the next delivery, save the next
dollar, give another generation – you,
maybe – the luxury of time

to write about us.
.

by Krista Benjamin
from The Best American Poetry 2006
Scribner Poetry, NY
.

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