Old Echoes from a Family Reunion

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Jane Carpenter

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.