Wednesday, March 08, 2006

More Comfortable Genes

This may be the only picture in existence of me with my parents, and I've spent a lot of time studying it to see which parts of me came from each of them.

The picture was on my desk while I wrote yesterday's genealogy post, and the combination of the writing and the picture caused the following poem to insinuate itself into my brain, one silly couplet at a time. It's been a long, long time since I've written a poem--much less a rhyming one--but it was fun to do and I decided to share it.

A History of Them and Me
(and How We're Linked Genetically)

My father’s sperm and mother’s egg
hooked up to make my arm, my leg,
my heart, my lungs, my chin, my knee,
and every other part of me.
My speaking voice, my pale white skin,
my lanky hair and crooked grin,
my way with words, my awkward dance
were part of my inheritance.

Before my parents there were others,
great-grandfathers, great-grandmothers,
soldiers here, a doctor there,
and farmers, farmers everywhere,
a rascal and (the oddest thing)
a concubine of England’s king,
passing on through progeny
the mixed-up genes that make up me.
From ancient time, from foreign place,
I got these eyes, this nose, this face.
The slender fingers of my hand
once toiled in soil of distant land.

My ancestors who trod this earth
in all the years before my birth
could not have known I’d ever be,
and yet they are a part of me.
As I do now, they lived and breathed
and bits of themselves they bequeathed,
so here I stand to honor them,
to think of her, remember him,
to thank them now with all my heart
for each and every body part.
Though they’ve all died and gone away,
I carry on their DNA.


  1. Do you have brothers and sisters?I have 6 , three sisters and three brothers. they are great! alway no matter what they will be with you. nice poem.i can't write poetry.

  2. Love the poem and what a beautiful photo of you and your parents. Your mother was really lovely and your father looks so earnest. My grandfather was an Irish immigrant but his immigration records were lost in a fire in the 20s so we haven't been able to find much about him now that it's too late to ask. His surname was Carmon and I was named for him. My great grandfather was Welsh and married a Cherokee woman. I envy you knowing so much about your history.

  3. you know about the orginazation PETA, trying to keep them from coming after me. snakes and me don't mix at all. when i was 60 years old my son had his horse at my home and he was letting the horse eat my nice green grass. we were looking at his horse. see i am real stiff and stove up with artr. but all at once i started to take a step and saw a flash of copper in the grass. i leaped at least 3 feet high and jumped a good 4 feet. my son said what is wrong with you.?i said COPPER HEAD Kelly said after he looked Copper head hell. It 2 and they are mating. They died in orgasam!

  4. What a brilliant blog. I loved the poem.

    Sadly I do not have a photo of my parents and myself - so it is wonderful to see such a photo.

    Thank you for sharing it with us

  5. Thanks to all three of you for your encouragement.

    I have one full sister who's a great friend. We stay in close contact even through we live three hours apart. I have one half-brother (though he feels like the whole thing) on my mother's side. And I have one half-brother and two half-sisters on my father's side. I've only met them once in my life, but we connected instantly.

    And Patsy, you crack me up!

  6. Don't ask me why my brain works this way, but I just discovered that this poem can be sung to the tune of "Away in a Manger." Just FYI.

  7. I love this poem - reminds me of Ogden Nash.


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