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a Census poem

Leeds, born Hull

It was the first day of the census and all through the land each pollster was ready, a black book in hand.
He mounted his horse for a long dusty ride, his books and his quills were tucked by his side.
She gave him some water as they sat at the table and she answered his questions, the best she was able
He asked of her children, Yes she had quite a few. The eldest 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 felt the faint stirrings of the wee one inside.
He noted the ***, the colour, the age; the marks from the quill soon filled up the page.
At the number of children, she nodded her head, and he saw her lips quiver for the ones that were dead.
They spoke of employment, of schooling and such.
They could read some and write some, though really not much.
When the questions were answered, his job there was done, so he mounted his horse and rode toward the sun.
We can almost imagine his voice loud and clear, may God bless you all for another ten year.

Now picture a time warp…..it’s now you and me as we search for the people on our family tree.
We squint at the records, and scroll down so slow, as we search for that entry from long, long, ago
Could they only imagine on that long ago day that the entries they made would affect us this way.

Part of a poem by Darlene Caryl-Stevens

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