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"DNA"

from Volume 5: Wild Mercury

 

by Doug Anderson

What do I remember of the real you?
Waking in a featherbed in Hickman, Kentucky,
meeting a young woman who was related
but I don’t know how?
My uncle saying, “He died alone,”
remembering dirt floor days and mules.
And that photo of my great grandfather
who died of TB after serving in the Civil War
(can’t remember which side, and Kentucky
split down the middle in the war).
The foundation of the two room house 
my mother grew up in, the rust stain
of the old woodstove on the floor.
These images, stored in their little
memory palace, will I replay them
when I die? So I spit into a tube 
and sent it back, hoping I’d get inside
it all and tunnel back inside them,
looking out at what they might have seen,
smelled, touched, tasted heard?
From this I get a whiff of mulch and silage,
of an unbathed grandfather
coming home from the mines
black as the blacks who lived down the hill, 
hand bathing in a wash tub to become
white again. Or my mother, as a girl,
her dark walk to the outhouse on 
a moonless night, clutching whatever it was
they used: corncobs I’m told.
Or an attic full of my father’s things,
abandoned in divorce.

Doug has several more poems in Volume 5, available for purchase in our bookstore.

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