In the gaze of the other

"My mistress' eyes are nothing…"

Heritage Now

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With fever and chills, my father lies in a hospital bed and

fights invaders ransacking his cells while we, her dad and I,

Share ancestral history over wine and braised Brussels sprouts.
 
Her father pulls out an album of black and whites painting shades,

Faces that look like his and hers, she who hungrily leafs through

Her fore-figures shepherding precious genetic messages, DNA,

Carried on lines like cargo bins rolling down mining tracks,

Straight to the mountain’s core, our heart’s beating back minutes

Through rock and river, rice paddies and leper camps, continents

And decades all swum, waded through generations of race, religion,

Geography and cultural diaspora, lost at sea; my people roamed.

I tell her we were gypsies and exiles, imperialists and colonizers,

Journalists and piano-tuners, soldiers and artists, musicians

And doctors, lawyers, painters and prisoners; we sailed on ships.

She eats the images page after page flying and flashing ghosts

In pressing drive, primal ranging expansive lust for connection,

An answer to why she is, these cellular haunts flooding her veins.

She wants to know the stories that she belongs to, her threaded

Braide-links to French, Spanish, Vietnamese, Rumanian, Russian, Latvian
 
and German world walkers. She doesn’t know yet, which link connects them all,
 
all the grandfather’s fathers and their fathers’ fathers before.
 
She doesn’t know the whole story and she can never know.

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