We are what we have been

Francis Elizabeth Blasingame painting, age 14, ca. 1864.

Great Grandmother Francis Elizabeth Blasingame painting, age 14, ca. 1856.

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

6 thoughts on “We are what we have been

  1. 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


  2. Angie,
    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.


  3. Philip,
    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.


  4. 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.


Thank you for visiting my poetry blog.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.