Thursday, December 27, 2007

(or, In Wales She Discovers Her Gene Pool)

As a kid the standard answer to questions regarding ancestral origins was “mostly Irish.”
This was somewhat of an over-generalization, everybody having been
American for so long nobody remembers or bothers about where
we came from.

Complicated truth includes Irish, English, Scottish, Welsh
and whatever other ugly things Aunt Alice discovered
that made her give up her passion for genealogy
with such sudden finality.
We figure if it wasn’t horse thieves or whores
it might have been a black man, a Shoshone grandma
or a señiorita in the closet—and smile at her fussiness.
There was in fact one set
that came straight from

So, in the big picture, “mostly Irish,” is as good
an answer as any.

But then, tramping through a mall in Swansea
every third person looks suspiciously familiar.
Physical characteristics start taking on an eerie significance.

That evening after poetry, I stare into the eyes of a personal duplicate
surrounded by three unrelated companions who could easily pass for my sisters,
and visit with a young man who looks so much like my Father at twenty,
I want to cry.

The next morning I make a pilgrimage over the tidal flats to the very
end of Worms Head,
sit on the point facing home, let the wind blow me clean,
and let my soul catch up…
there together
my soul and I
we plant our stakes.

One here
where psychic certainty says these—these are the people
I come from

And one there
where we are and will be
mostly American.

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