Family Names
by Lennart Lundh

When my father’s folks made Ellis Island,
the good clerks there, with infinite wisdom,
changed the family name of Lundh to Johnson.
It wasn’t worth an argument to Knut, I’d guess.

Trading Brooklyn and the Great Depression
for Inga’s brother’s farm up Hardangerfjord,
they had no need to change the name again.
They knew who they were, as did their kin.

With the Wehrmacht hungry for Norway,
Sweden and Grandpa’s folks were next.
The border was open, no passports needed,
and gratefully the name remained the same.

Another seven years, and back across the sea.
Grandpa Knut decided Lund was a better name.
Dad and his brother Elof liked the silent “h”,
while Uncle Al figured Johnson was just fine.

There are family stories in names, it seems.
My name comes from my mother’s half-brother,
a relationship so valued, so heirloom-worthy,
I didn’t learn of it, or him, until last year.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author with his daughters at Point Loma, San Diego, California (December 1973).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lennart Lundh is a poet, short-fictionist, historian, and photographer. His work has appeared internationally since 1965. Len and his wife, Lin, reside in Northeastern Illinois.