Elegy for Samuel

Last night I got home late.  I had a message on my answering machine from the suddenly-discovered relative I emailed the other day.  Crazy?  Maybe, but not really.  I didn’t call.  It was already late.  And it’s late now, too.  And I have a class that will keep me out late tomorrow …

But I will call.  Digging into the past is bound to make curious things like this happen … though I wouldn’t have thought it could happen so quickly!  But I will call because I’m interested in hearing more of what he knows.  And I’m interested to suddenly learn of a whole enormous branch of my family that I never heard of before.  He and I are connected long ago. My great-great-great grandfather (on my father’s mother’s side) was his great grandfather (on his father’s side).  His grandfather’s sister married my great-great grandfather, and the lines went their separate ways.

But for tonight’s Arun, I’m still thinking about Samuel, my great grandfather on my mother’s father’s side.  I’m still thinking about him where I found him last week, on that 1870 census, thinking about him in 1870, just five years out of slavery. The Poetic Asides prompt for today is to write an elegy. I don’t know if this Arun can really pass as a love poem, but it’s what I have:

man, free.
I can never
know him, know his face,
of his eyes.
An unknown man.
But his blood still runs.
in me.
What other
traces of him
am I carrying?


Please consider donating to my indiegogo campaign to support my participation in the VONA Voices graphic novel workshop this summer. Thank you!


An Arun is a 15-line poem with the syllable count 1/2/3/4/5 — 3x.  It may be a new thing in the world, made up by me last year.  “Arun” means “five” in Yoruba.


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