The Census Taker
' Twas the first day of Census, and all through the land,
each polster was ready........a ledger in hand.
He mounted his horse for a long dusty ride, his book and some quills
were tucked close by his side.
A long winding ride down a road barely there, toward the smell of
fresh bread, wafting up through the air.
The woman was tired, with lines on her face and wisps of red hair
she tucked back into place.
She served him some tea, as they sat at the table and answered
his questions ..... the best she was able.
He asked her of children. Yes, she had quite a few -- the oldest was
twenty, the youngest, not two.
She held up a toddler with cheeks round and red; his sister, she
whispered, was napping in bed.
She noted each person who lived there with pride, and she felt the
faint stirrings of the wee one inside.
He noted the sex, the hair color, the age......the marks from his quill
were soon filling the page.
At the number of children, she nodded her head and he saw her lips
quiver, for the three who were dead.
The places of birth, that she "never forgot" : Pennsylvania? Ohio?
Missouri? ...... or not?
They came here from Scotland, of that she was clear, but she wasn't
quite sure just how long they'd been here.
They spoke of employment, of schooling and such, they could read
some ... and write some ... though really not much.
With the questions all answered, his job there was done, so he
mounted his horse and rode off toward the sun.
We can almost imagine his voice loud and clear, "May God bless
you and keep you, another ten years."
Now picture a time warp ..... it's now you and me, as we search for
the people in our family tree.
We squint at the census and scroll down so slow, as we search for
that entry from long, long ago.
They could not have imagined, that long - ago day, that the entries
they made would affect us this way.
If they knew, would they wonder at the yearning we feel and the
searching that makes them so vividly real?
We can hear, if we listen, the words they impart, through their
blood in our veins and their voice in our heart.