I grew up among the undead
those sepia strangers
blank faced gypsies
who framed walls and cluttered shelves

we dusted them weekly like religion
shined the immaculate visions
of our past bestowing them
the life we didn’t tithe ourselves

ladies in high-necked gowns
lace and ribbons jewels
sober men in worn suits
and well parted hair
working women glued to their aprons

rooting us by genes
with names like
Elnora
August
Wilhemena
Gerhard

their dark eyes keening
strangled journeys
wide waters
promise-laden lands

their frozen stories following us
through homework and dinners
watching our sleep with envy
their secrets kindling
the muted air around us