They wrote their stories in the fields they farmed
fields that disappeared with the passing of time
their nipa houses that sat on stilts
now long replaced by houses of cement and bricks.

Nobody knew from where they came
their past and their future paled to their now
hollowing out life from the land
to which they were born, to which they were bound

Simple folks, unlettered and without  guile
did not think to leave any personal memorial
but for rare photographs in some forgotten bin
showing sun-kissed faces, ageless and stern

How grave they looked. Not a hint of a smile
was bequeathed upon their children’s children
what difficulties could they have faced
that rubbed the joy off their countenance?

Alas, we have lost our inheritance –
the stories that could no longer be retold.
Our ignorance and the passing years
had made strangers of our ancestors

but for the blood flowing in our veins
that brings us back to  from where we came –
in that hamlet enriched by our forebears’ hands
only their gravestones tell us their name.


For DVERSE POETS’ Poetics:  Your Family History.  Another photo-finish piece.  My husband said – it has possibilities.  It is his nice way of saying that this still needs some polish. 🙂


Thank you for coming by.

11 thoughts on “TO THE UNKNOWN FOREFATHER (for DVerse Poets)

  1. i think the loss of history would be a terrible thing…esp those things that are only passed down in story…and lost as well at times because we do not care to hear them in the moment…

  2. So gently and poignantly done. I love the opening line and its echo in the last line: All that is left of the stories they “wrote” are their names on gravestones. Beautifully visual, too.

  3. i sometimes wonder when i look at old photos how happy they were – did they suffer a lot – were the times tough or did they have even more good times than we have now.. sometimes i wish those old pics could talk

  4. This part struck me the most:

    Alas, we have lost our inheritance –
    the stories that could no longer be retold.

    Sadly the past is gone, only names in the gravestones left ~ Thanks for participating Imelda ~ Wishing you happy Friday & weekend ~

  5. I liked your poem. They may not have smiled, but they worked hard & passed on a strong legacy to those who followed. We may not even recognize their influence on us, but it is there.

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