by Joan Mazza

At what age do we peer into history,
not like Narcissus, but with a desire
to pore over stories of ancestors?
What were their names or nicknames?
What did they live for?


Three of my grandparents
lived until my current age of sense
and reason. One died young.
Not one question

did I ask about their ocean crossing
to America, what they felt at first
sight in the harbor of the Lady
with the torch. What worries
passed through them, or hope

of arbors green with fig trees,
grape vines, gardens they
had yet to plant?
Boomer friends
are searching their ancestry
for memoirs, not to publish

but for friends and family: children
and grandchildren. They hold
a conviction their offspring
will want to read the crafted words
and phrases they labor over

every day. When asked of aunts
and uncles on her mother’s side,
my grandniece snapped, I don’t know
and I don’t care! One day she’ll have
questions. Who will be there?


Joan Mazza worked as a medical microbiologist and psychotherapist and taught workshops on
understanding dreams and nightmares. She is the author of six self-help psychology books,
Dreaming Your Real Self. Her poetry has appeared in The Comstock Review,
Valparaiso Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Italian Americana, Poet Lore, Slant, The Nation
and elsewhere. She lives in rural central Virginia and writes every day.
Read her previous poem in Deep South here.

All My Grandmothers