Voices In My Heart
- It was the first day of census and all through the land
- each pollster was ready...a black book in hand.
- He mounted his horse for a long dusty ride,
- his books and his quills were tucked close by his side.
- A long dusty ride down a road barely there,
- toward the smell of fresh bread wafting up through the air.
- The woman was tired, with lines on her face
- and wisps of brown hair she tucked back into place.
- She gave him some water as they sat at the table,
- and she answered his questions the best she was able.
- He asked her of children. Yes, she had quite a few.
- The oldest was twenty, the youngest not two.
- She held up a toddler with cheeks round and red.
- His sister, she whispered, was napping in bed.
- She noted each person who lived there with pride,
- and she felt the faint stirrings of the wee one inside.
- He noted the sex, the color, the age,
- the marks from the quill soon filled up the page.
- At the number of children, she nodded her head,
- and he saw her lips quiver for the ones that were dead.
- The places of birth she "never forgot"...
- Was it Carolina, or Tennessee, or Georgia or not?
- They came from Scotland, on that she was clear,
- But she wasn't quite sure just how long they'd been here.
- They spoke of employment, of schooling and such.
- They could read some and write some...though really not much.
- When the questions were answered, his job there was done,
- so he mounted his horse and he rode toward the sun.
- We can almost imagine his voice loud and clear,
- "May God bless you all for another ten years."
- Now picture a time warp...it's now you and me
- as we search for the people on our family tree.
- We squint at the census, and scroll down so slow,
- as we search for that entry from long, long ago.
- Could they only imagine on that long ago day
- that the entries they made would affect us this way.
- If they knew, would they wonder at the yearning we feel
- and the searching that makes them so increasingly real?
- We can hear if we listen, the words they impart
- through their blood in our veins and their voice in our heart.
Courtesy of the author Darlene Stevens