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,
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.