A Poem for You: Antepasados/Ancestors


from Heart Songs, Collected Poems of Nina Serrano, 1969 – 1979

"Connecting Antepasados/Ancestors", Felt Pen Drawing by Nina Serrano
“Connecting Antepasados/Ancestors”, Felt Pen Drawing by Nina Serrano

We are one
because America is one continent
tied by the slender curves
of Panama.
We are one people
tied by the buried bones of antepasados
the buried bones of ancestors.

from Asia to America
from Africa to America
from Europe to America.

Back to the first mothers and the first fathers
back to the first gardens of flowers and fruits,
where vegetables grew wild.
The soft thick grasses cushioned their bodies
when they lay down to love.
Warm water gurgled up from the earth
and spilled down into clear pools.
Feathers waved above their heads
and floated across their bodies
as they strutted in the afternoon.

But then there was the snake of greed grew like a weed
planted the seed
that made one person think that to fill their need
or to succeed
they had to use someone else’s labor
for their own profit.
Wars came. Dead animals.
Women and cattle became property
Slaves chained. Put to work,
endless work
that finally built factories and smog
rich parts of town and poor
built on the buried bones of antepasados
the buried bones of ancestors.
Shake the bones
hear their ghostly moans
We learn from our past
to build our future.

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