Sunday, 18 April 2010

Magpie 10 - Lorenzo

through muddy paddocks
for your headstone.
whom I never knew
born in a place no one can trace
died with a name no one recognizes
buried on a boggy flood plain
marked by fragments of faded stone.

in your portrait
you wear your best hat
vest trousers tie.
a Venetian timepiece for you and
one for your son.
a fob watch secured by a chain
a tenuous link to home.
a reminder of the passage of time
and a journey from
a country not yet named.

in black lace and
a skirt of heavy cotton
hand sewn and hand stitched
stares down the camera.
too hot
for this climate this
brown bone-dry country.
a mantilla of mourning
a portent of things to come.
this life in the antipodes -
enough to kill
your spirit.

it was Maria's idea this portrait
your shoes are working shoes
not shoes for church or studio.

these clues
these remnants of stories
rescued and
half remembered,
guessed at and
glued together like an old photo.
all that remains.

on the verge of despair
i find your grave,
headstone prone
in six large pieces
washed by 100 years of
Richmond River floods.
the letters no longer
marked by metal.

i run my fingers over marble
trace your name

Click on this image for more stories and writing on Magpie Tales


Katherine said...

I really enjoyed reading your post & I am so pleased for you that you found his grave.
Your great grandfathers family portrait is wonderful.. I love hearing snippets about my families history..I find it all so interesting. Thanks for a great read!

Helen said...

Old photos like yours are so precious. What we see and how we see it ~ what the photos say and how they say it .... I loved reading your Magpie today.

Brian Miller said...

a vivid rememberance...and running your fingers over the stone to draw his touching...

nice magpie!

Catalyst said...

I kept going from your words back to the photo. Great descriptive work, Steve.

rel said...

this piece is an easy read for me and that's how i like it. So in that vein I say bravo!
I too like the old photos and try to put together the fragments of stories told together with the picture to create a plausible history.
At the family plot where I attend often to trim and plant I talk to my ancesters and bring them up to date on what's happened since they moved on.

Linda Bob Grifins Brin Korbetis said...

you write the poem with love,
what a magnificent post!
Happy Monday!

mine is here:
It is time to

Linda Bob Grifins Brin Korbetis said...

oops, here in my magpie tale!
simply a poem,
thank you for reading it.

joanna said...

What a beautiful connection in your poetry to those who have gone before but not forgotten in Time in Space in Life all woven together with the wonderful little revel in the men's pocket the timepiece.


Enchanted Oak said...

This is a marvelous tale. As a poem, it works well.

Vicki Lane said...

Beautiful post -- perfect for the Magpie prompt!

Jennifer said...

I'm especially taken with the image of the flood plain at the beginning and the floods at the end. It makes this piece as much about place as it is about family - more so what makes our connections to place so deep.
Beautifully done.

Unknown said...

What a beautiful post.
I am so glad you found his grave.
Thank you so much for sharing.
mine is here
this is my first magpie tale.
have you a great week.

steviewren said...

Old photos of relatives who past long before our days drudge up such interesting musings and unanswered questions. How did they live? What did they think? What were their dreams?Great take on this weeks Magpie.

Short Poems said...

Amazing connection in your poetry, a beautiful tale.

marinela x x

Tess Kincaid said...

Beautiful and touching piece. Even though the stone was broken, I'm glad you found it, and made that tactile connection.

I see shades of your great grandfather in your face.

Peter Goulding said...

Done a fair amount of grave-hunting in my time and can really relate to this!

Unspoken said...


Jingle said...

it is time for week 16 Thursday Poets Rally,
let me know if you wish to be a participant!
thank you.
you are represented a one of those fresh poet.

Katherine Krige said...

You have lovely prose. So easy to read. Thanks for popping by to visit me.