My mother wants to see me again. That means she'd like me
   to shave off my beard.
She points her thumb at the dark portrait of a bearded man,
   whose name is Caleb,
and calls him "Spinach Face." Gazing over the fluted
         sofa and
   butler's table,
he's a mystery, though we've visited his grave: an obelisk with
   wreaths at the base.
A shield on his marker bears the inscription "A Man Strong
   for the Right."
But what, I wonder, could that mean in a county where
   slavery was legal for most of his lifetime?
What did he do for a living? I learn from property records and
   census reports
that Caleb Shepherd owned windmills, a half share in a
   schooner, and worked as a miller.
Now I can see him: standing by sacks of meal that someone he
   employed, most likely black,
heaved onto a wagon that clattered through unpaved
   streets toward docks on the river
where stevedores, also black, stacked them on barges for
   transport up the Chesapeake.
I don't know what this bearded ancestor might have
   construed as "right,"
with the blades of his windmill spinning from gusts off
         the bay.