According to the dictionary, I’m not
an ancestor yet, only a grandparent
of a blond boy who clomps in his new sandals,
then throws me a ball strewn with black
stars and moons on a white background,
and a bow-legged baby girl with blue eyes,
all smiles today in her hooded carrier—
a child born the day my own grandfather
would have turned 130. He never knew
he had grandchildren, let alone great greats.
My own toddler days of warm cookies,
crayons and Betsy Wetsy dolls don’t seem
far away, but I am en route to becoming
an ancestor. Lucy and Ricky are dead.
Barbie is past fifty. Even the hippies
are history. When my grandchildren show
their grandchildren my photo in an old
album, I wonder what they’ll say.
That I swore like a trucker when I was hurt?
Blew like Vesuvius when I was mad?
They might recall I was always late, never
learned to knit or crochet, had brown hair,
couldn’t cook worth a damn but could carry
a tune, took poetry books everywhere,
liked to know birds and insects by name,
overreacted in both bad and good ways,
was unreasonably vain for someone my age,
had legs like a crane and liked to dance.
— Lucille Lang Day
From Becoming an Ancestor,
first published in ForPoetry.com