Friday, August 5, 2011

Bio- Poetry

       That Explains Three-eighths of Me
                               by Jim Rapp

I grew up thinking only one-eighth of me
was native . . . American.
My father’s father’s mother was a Cherokee.

Too little native blood, it seemed, to qualify
for aid . . . even if we would;
too many threads to trace and verify.

All those years the love of wood and stream,
had haunted, called to me,
the taste of squash and maize and bean,

and a kinship with the fate and fortune –
some would say, the doom –
of a people half-forgot, yet full subsumed,

played beyond the edges of my memory,
seen a while, then not;
darting in and out; coming, going teasingly;

a sense of brotherhood too strong for myth,
too weak, alas, for proof,
and tempting to dismiss.

Then Mother died, and papers left behind
told a tale not even hinted at
when she was still alive;

Child of a red-headed child, the facts lay bare –
fathered, but fatherless,
a bastard baby girl; high cheeks, dark hair.

And sibling memories retained, then told the story
of interracial rape . . . or love,
and teen-age pregnancy,

Explaining Mom’s high cheeks, dark eyes,
and adding one full quarter
to my native tendencies.

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