Irreverent Replies to FamilySearch Email Subject Lines*

Jake, your 6th Great-grandmother’s homeland was…
A place where people farted,
a place where people picked their noses,
a place where people spewed diarrhea,
maybe even a place where my 6th great-
grandma laughed as a boy’s voice cracked.
I mean, she couldn’t have been all nice.

Jake, your 3rd Great-grandfather’s homeland was…
A place where folks drank plain carbonated water
the way I drink new gimmick flavors of soda pop,
a place where potatoes were so important they
named a famine after them (or maybe we did),
a place where a dreamed-for better life led
my 3rd great-grandfather to the land
where I feel trapped.

Jake, see your 2nd great-grandfather’s headstone!
Um, could we do this later?
My boss keeps walking
past my cubicle
today. … Oh

Jake, you have a pioneer relative!
Rather than ruminate on their real life,
I’ll lazily daydream adrift in its wake—
seeking the pleasure of being haunted.
Will they look down upon me
and shine with gratitude when
I share their past on Pinterest?

Jake, your 3rd great-grandmother traveled thousands of miles for religious freedom
Did she regard tar and feather the way
I regard shame tweets and Facebook
screeds? Give me my badges of honor,
for I am a Job wannabe.

What did she think of polygamy?

No, I really want to know. If all the darned
man angels in Paradise could just shut up,
I’d like to hear her speak. Clear. Unfiltered.
Unforced by algorithms. Because a secret
something tells me I never would have,
and never will, hear her
prophesy from a pulpit.

Jake, we may have found a new record hint about your relative
Subject lines alone lead
me to snarky suspicions,
because anything might be,
though few things may be.
Because genealogy bleeds
promise like a TikTok feed.
It pleads for one more, 
oh, just one more

Jake, we found your great-grandfather’s obituary!
Okay. And…?
Oh right, first
the fathers need me
to click!

Jake, we found your Great-grandfather’s military record
I thank him for his service. Wait!
Which country was he fighting for?

Jake, your great-grandfather’s birthday is coming up!
I’m only buying candles for the years
he was in his probationary state.

Jake, you’ve received a name for the temple
Oh? Perhaps I should forward it
to someone with a recommend:

FW: The hearts of the fathers…

Poet’s Notes

*The italicized portions of the above poem are subject lines quoted directly from FamilySearch marketing emails—including punctuation. FamilySearch is a service provided by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.