Around the festive board, old faces missed
Replace themselves with new ones: likeness-kissed --
The sweetness of a certain curve of cheek;
The tone of voice when one is heard to speak;
The grave regard of granite-colored eyes
Repeat the portraits on the wall; surprise
The senses with a spurt of memory
That answers every questing enquiry,
As potent as the scent of a pressed rose!
How does a child reflect an aunt's repose,
Who never knew her mentor, long at rest,
But read her yellowed diary, frightened lest
The pages crumble in her smooth young hand?
A boy who knew not his ancestral land
Still bears the stamp of mountains and fjords;
The music's in his bones -- the primal chords.
All that we have become, we owe the old
Who went before -- their warmth would pierce the cold
Of this year's end and grey December day,
Where past has more than present words to say.