Walking in their Footsteps

looked bigger on the map, old Cumminsville
that neighborhood my ancestors came home to
a hundred years ago and more, every night,
having pulled shifts in factories, assembling iron stoves
and ladies’ shoes. Here I am, looking down at
these remaining cobblestones, still free to the sky,
perceiving the echoes of them, their shoe soles slap-slapping
deep in my DNA. Ach ja, there are still streets
uncovered and untarred, leading to
that old bakery, where my second great-grandfather’s
daughter-in-law sold bread hot from the oven
to my young, vigorous great-grandfather.
He talked his brother Philipp into being best man
at that long-ago wedding, hoping to hitch him
to one of the robust bridesmaids, all of good German stock.
Philipp demurred, as I see from the census record,
He never married. I would have liked him, his
independence and his love of a well-brewed beer,
sashaying together from pub to tavern to brewery
in this most German of New World cities ~