For twelve years I was descended from a ghost —

Elizabeth Newton, born 1810

in Marsden — and bragged to all my cousins

about the fascinating older woman

who charmed a young man in his twenties

and at 51 gave birth to our grandfather. Not so: that Elizabeth died young.

A white papoose, a few days old,

Floats past my dreams and into the graveyard.

Much later, her younger sister was born

In Manchester, another Elizabeth,

To step into the life that was waiting for her.

She had four children and died in her forties.

Her husband lied on her death certificate.

(He was drunk, of course.) She was his own age —

an ordinary match — no subtle enchantress.

But how can I separate her from her sister?

They are superimposed on each other for ever.