Sunday poem: "The crooked inheritance" by Marge Piercy

The crooked inheritance

A short neck like my mother
long legs like my father
my grandmother’s cataract of hair
and my grandmother’s cataracts
my father’s glaucoma
my mother’s stout heart
my father’s quick temper
my mother’s curiosity
my father’s rationality
my mother’s fulsome breasts
my father’s narrow feet

Yet only my grandmother saw in me
a remembrance of children past
You have a good quick mind like Moishe.
Your grandfather zecher l’vrocho
had a gift for languages too.
Rivka also had weak eyes
and a delicate stomach.
You can run as fast as Feygeleh.
You know that means little bird?

I was a nest of fledglings chirping
hunger and a future of flight
to her, but to my parents,
the misshapen duckling
who failed to make flesh
their dreams of belonging:
a miraculous blond angel
who would do everything
right they had failed.
Instead they got a black
haired poet who ran away.

Marge Piercy


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