Inheritance

After dinner, by candlelight,
in a bed chilled by October,
reading Silver Threads
by Alice B. Johnson, my great-granddaughter fingers
turn aged pages, and
my eyes drink in words
that taste so familiar.

Is it possible to know
someone who is only a line on a family tree, shadows and
browned pages of poetry,
and Swedish recipes,
and memories from those who are also gone?

I put the thin book on my bedside table,
beside my cell phone,
and a plate of Florence and my
grandfather’s old pocket knife,
and my matches.

From the pages, an inheritance check slips out.

Oh God, I would give it all up!
Just to witness the writing of those threads, the
revisions, and better yet,
the inspirations.

Give it all up just
to hear her daughter explain,
in a warm kitchen,
her version of her mother’s poems.

I blow out the candles, and realize,
with one quick verse,
the past lives on. It is breathing in words
of mothers, daughters,
and home. Will another one find these
so familiar when I’m gone?

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