Robert Lunday is the author of Mad Flights (Ashland Poetry Press) and the forthcoming Gnome (Black Sun Lit). He teaches for Houston Community
College and lives on a small horse farm in central Texas.
My grandmother wrote me a letter on shirt cardboard
and the family history on the inside of a cracker box.
The Great Depression did that to people: it made them
turn anything into paper. The family history she wrote
was not even hers but her husband’s, whom she’d married
after the War, after my mother’s first mother had died.
The family history she wrote started with the Todds
of Virginia, winding up with the Jacobs in Tennessee,
where they’ve been for ages, all the way to the bottom
of a turned-out cracker box. The names, with partial dates
and scant but sometimes curious details, crawl down
the cardboard page like gaunt but sure-footed mountaineers,
which generally they were. The bottom of the cracker box
was not far enough, so she scrawled along the left side
as the generations continued, then back over the top
where she’d started, down the right side to our mother;
and in tiny block capitals, upside down at the bottom,
barely fitting in, my siblings and I hang like bats.