Heritage Now

image

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.

Nose for Flight

  

Resounding pounding booming voices,

we walk as tribe towering through town–

big women, muscular and thick.

Known for our beakish noses and long necks,

the women in our family walk tall and short

thin and squat, spoon and saucer, some

tea and coffee drinkers, sweet and savory,

all manner of political persuasion, religions

zealots and atheists all, strong and quiet

loud and soft, self-realized and delusional,

married and single, childless and family’d,

but we share too bountiful brows and thin

lips or thin, hairless arcs with thick bottoms.

No one escaped freckles, some splotched

others speckled like paint splatter, touched.

Hair painted blonde, brown, blue, red or rust

from birth or bottle, we live color and light.

Our faces trace aspect of notable signature

only ours and fragmented chromosomal bits

of all those big feet that marched soils’ exile

from Siberia to Spain’s royal anti semites

of centuries past onto gypsies roaming free

dancing to the colors of a rhythmic breath

breathed in noses shaped for soaring flight.