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Just Listen


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It was the first day of the 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 book
and his quills were tucked by his side.
A long winding 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 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 quite 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 of the quill soon filled up the page.

At the number of children, she nodded her head
and felt her lips quiver for the three that were dead.
The places of birth she "never forgot"
was it Pennsylvania? or Virginia? or Ohio? or what?
They had come cross the sea, of that she was clear,
but she wasn't quite sure how long they'd been here.

They spoke of employment, of schooling and such,
they could read some, and write some, but really not much.
When the questions were answered, his job there was done,
so he mounted his horse and 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, its 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 ever imagine on that long ago day
that the entries they made would affect us this way?

If they knew, would they wonder at the yearnings we feel
and the searching that makes them so lovingly real.
Would they understand our efforts, our struggles,
to reach back to touch them because they are ours?
Hush now awhile, we can hear if we listen the words
they impart, "Our blood's in your veins and our love
in your hearts".

Author Unknown


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