‘IF ONLY I’D ASKED’

A Poem for the frustrated family history fan

Why didn’t I ask great aunt Ethel?
How could I  have known I’d be here
Gazing at old family photos
And papers from her yester year.
 
And All those family mysteries 
My Aunt who knew what they were
All shrouded in secrets that couldn’t be told
If only I’d thought and asked her.
 
I remember so well all those Aunties
And Uncles who fought World War One
Sitting around our table at home
From Ypres, the Somme and Verdun.
 
My grandmother born in the workhouse
The stories that never were told
The mother she lost to ‘madness’
When Nana was just two years old.
 
What happened to those who left England?
Did they settle and find a new home?
The passenger lists cannot tell me
Aunt Floss in her day would have known.
 
The photo of the Nan in her garden -
She’s smiling at me from the past
As I wonder about all the names on my tree
She’s saying “if only you’d asked”.

Christine Miller
January 2021

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