Saturday, January 6, 2018

safely delivered

Printed in 1725 and thicker than my hand is broad, the leather-bound Bible that once belonged to my grandmother contains several cracked and yellowed pages closely written on both sides in faded brown ink, the entries dating back to 1699.  The ink has bled through the thin paper, which is torn and mended in several places with cloudy tape.  I photograph the pages with my iPhone and enlarge the images, laboriously transcribing as much as I can. 

Here is my ancestor Elizabeth, married on August 20, 1717 ‘old stile.’  In the next twenty years she bore thirteen children—seven of them born dead. Her granddaughter, also called Elizabeth, married a lieutenant in the 55th Regiment of the British Army and sailed with him from New York to Ireland and back again.  Widowed with at least three children, she later remarried.  An oil portrait of her second husband, in powdered hair and flowing cravat, hangs on the wall behind me. One forefinger marks his place between the pages of a half-closed book. 

a brittle history
of baptism and burial—
the refrain
        thanks be to god
 in a spidery hand

~Skylark 4:2, Winter 2016

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