The lines of life diverge,
Crisscrossed paths of breath,
Entwined fingers of the past,
A scrapbook collage to the future.
The ancestors wait to be found,
Furtive scribbled lines in books,
A birth, a marriage, baptism, burial.
Who are you to ask who am I?
Dig deeper into the yellowed pages.
Horse thief, laborer, carriage maker,
Farmers, housewives, soldiers, MIA.
Holding a hand before your face,
The skin has belong to so many,
What will you pass on to the next?
Kindred, owner, user, chromosome?
The DNA of yesteryear a burden,
The crushing weight of evolution,
A contribution to the pool of existence.
And yet, we are what we have been.
Copyright: 2008, Donald Harbour
Your poem is wonderful.
There are so many powerful lines, beginning with the title.
I love the image of “Holding a hand before your face,/The skin has belonged to so many”
Just beautiful! ~Angie
I like the way our biology is brought into the poem: we are just some bits of the DNA of life’s evolution; some perhaps, to mix back in.
Thank you for your complement to “We are what we have been”. I have been researching my family genealogy for years all the way to 1041 AD. I find an immense connection to my ancestors and welcomed the RWP challenge for this piece. I went to your site. You provided a fantastic observation of causes and reason in your poem “Tipping the family tree” . Your other poetry shows the depth of your talent. Bravo! Thank you.
I appreciated your comment on “We are what we have been”. By the way, Eartha Kitt has been a favorite of mine for years. I have many of her albums. Great talent is always preserved. I am glad you read the biology of the poem, it is very relevant.
Very powerful. You reminded me of my connections to my own ancestors. Awesome write.
I liked the title so much was pleased it was the end line, too. My other favorite, “The crushing weight of evolution,” seemed to my ear and thoughts the telling ring all the way through the poem.
Takes a great deal of work and luck, and lineage of a certain stock, I imagine, to be able to trace back that far.