This qualifies obliquely as a Sidewalk Poem because I composed it while walking. The content was prompted by people-watching, and reflecting on the fact that although I’ve lived in Barcelona for almost half my life, about 20 minutes into any conversation I still get asked where I’m from. And the answer started this poem…
My family came from Europe,
passed through Texas on the way.
Greatgrandpa married an Indian.
She was beautiful, they say.
I’ve never seen a photo,
but her cheekbones must be mine.
I share them with my brothers —
an interracial sign
too subtle to be noticed
if you are not inclined
to look for family secrets.
My children can’t be Indians,
with freckles and blond hair.
It’s just a story for Thanksgiving
when all the family’s there.
It brings to life the history
they read about in books
and teaches them that kinship
is more complex than it looks.
*Note – liberties taken: wasn’t greatgrandfather, but great-great. And my apologies – Native American didn’t fit the meter.