The Ancestors


Moved up the river to a ghostless house.
Hung out the Monday washing in the breeze.
Dyed each daughter’s ribbons to match her blouse.
Sowed corn, beets, beans, alfalfa. Planted trees.
Fashioned the baby’s lampshade as a bird.
Seeded the lawn to sprout a greener green.
Strung up the colored lights without a word.
Made everything exactly as it seemed.
Rubbed out the names etched in the walls. Concealed
Mosaics under pinewood. Built a temple
Only in miniature. Served ham. Prepared
Bean casserole. Canned peaches. Hardly bared
Their flesh or accents. Kept it quiet, simple.
Respelled their names, their homes. Never revealed

Hannah Faith Notess completed an MFA in creative writing at Indiana University. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Slate, Rattle, Crab Orchard Review, Image, and Mid- American Review. She held the 2008-2009 Milton Center Postgraduate Fellowship in Seattle, Washington.


First published in Measure, Volume 4, Issue 1 (2009)