Rusty Chain Heritage

The antique cards from my great grandmother,
the photographs of ancestors I did not know,
so much regal furniture, I sat in a closed off
parlor, quiet in a King George chair, looked

across the room at the matching couch,
the grand organ, the gold trimmed tall mirror
with marble at its base, hung full length
between tall windows formally draped.

I loved the quiet in this room, the history I
never understood. The organ no one played,
out of tune, a museum for far away relatives
in England or Holland, mother’s side

of the family, who tried to stay wealthy
but exposed to the elements oxidized
in a slow decline, till it wore thin this family
chain, clear to inevitable death.

So much no one remembers, only two chairs
left, reupholstered, and the mirror, yes, the
mirror, now on sister’s wall in Philadelphia,
no longer with its marble stand, but it hangs

a view to see ourselves, how we have walked
through to this other side — some of us — who
would be us, long disappeared, those still here
with traces in our blood, on our walls, in the

pictures we grow older and more distant
every decade — this rusty chain still present —
binding like a cross, there is no escape, no matter
the life we live now.