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Poetry as Memoir

There are many ways to preserve relationships in written records.  For those who have hundreds of pages of personal poetry, take the time to peruse what you have captured about family and events set in motion by family members as you create any retrospective about your life or family.
Poetry often captures what prose cannot evoke.  When putting together a family history, bring relationships alive with the poetry you created.
This following example links generations and captures what I felt as I made a phone call to an elderly aunt to inform her that my eldest brother had passed away.

In loving memory of my big brother
James L. Hill
Born August 22nd, 1939
Died July 22nd, 2015

Oh Jimmy
you
among those who first greeted me
in life
were the last to leave
family
as complicated as it comes
eldest brother
but last to leave
once we were five
i remember you
i remember you all
in my superstitious brain
i wonder if they met you
Max said Dad and Dave
were there to go with him
i took black cloths from mirrors
months ago
though they draped each memory of you
until today
i only now
reflect on life without you
you always remembered my birthday
and i always knew you loved me
and you were loved
all your life
our aunt, elderly, so frail
closer in age to you
than you to me
fragile tremor in her voice
just said, “oh Jimmy,” when i told her
i swear i could see you as a baby
in her arms in her mind
as she said it
I had never heard you called that
first born son, to first born son
my sweet, gullible brother
teased or bullied for your kindness
your faith
you loved without measure
happiness bursting across your face
whenever you saw me
in spite of your pain
your years of pain
i recited
a buddhist prayer
for me
a psalm for you
the year of mourning ended
in the dark quiet of this day before the dawn
though tears formed like dew to meet the day
—Nancy Hill, 22 July 2016
If you are creating a digital record or history or memoir, consider hyperlinks to images with captions that add concrete information to elements of the poem.
For example, I might link to a an image of my fathers family before he left home or to my brothers.

My dad and his sisters as they prepare to board the school bus. Kosciusko County, Indiana, circa 1930
Brothers and sisters: Donald, Cora, Carolyn, Elene, Jean, and Maralee Hill, as they prepare to board the school bus. Kosciusko County, Indiana, circa 193o.

Jim and Roger Hill circa 1955
Jim and Roger Hill circa 1955

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