Nested inside her like successive Russian dolls—
how much I might love,
how brown my eyes
or this Roman nose
that migrates across my face. The smallest stamp
of bees across the apron of a dog rose—
how much room is there
for impatient tendency?
Only my mother’s mother’s mother knows,
so deep inside the drop of me
it cannot be divulged.
A clue: the spine is laddered
for an uphill climb. In a photograph
her dress was lovely, littered as it was
with red umbrellas,
hair done up in a bun—
and in the next, she has none. Where is that place
in all of human history
she can leave her mark,
if not on me?
“Genealogy” first appeared in The Kenyon Review, Vol. XXVIII:1, (Winter 2006): 54.