In Daddy’s Genes

And because I’m feeling productive today, I’ll post a second poem! This title was suggested by my best friend, because I could not for the life of me figure out what to call it. And Gene Blues was too terrible a pun to actually use.

In Daddy’s Genes

I am infected with that
Same nose, same eye colour,
Same hands, and more;
I inherited- or learned-
Arrogance, and stubbornness;
How to thrust my intellect
Up and out like a shield;
To slice others with words,
And to skewer them with silence.
My smile is a genetic disease,
My voice an unwelcome reminder.

And I wonder now
How many generations of
Lover, of thief, of farmer, of scholar,
Have shared the curve of my brow,
The same bark-brown hair,
And carved their words as I do?
I see my face, and all the faces,
Staring back at me in the mirror.

Is this my inheritance?
A predisposition for diabetes,
For cancer, for cruelty?
I see my fate in my sister’s dimple
And my brother’s blond curls.
Always the same pale pink skin
Blistering under the unforgiving sun.

And I wonder once more
How to throw off the chains
Of DNA and family;
Wonder if I could reach in
And dig out the offending
Markers and links and memories,
To hurl them down, screaming,
Defiant to the last atom.

Yes, I am infected with
Reminders, gestures, speech patterns,
Ingrained too deeply to shift at will.
My genetic makeup is immutable.
But that doesn’t change the
Small, secret, whispered wish
That one half- or all-
Of my twenty-three chromosome pairs
Were from a different donor.

© Bridget Noonan, 2011

This is one I have contemplated mailing out to a couple lit mags for publishing. What do you think, could I get in with something like this?



Filed under Poetry

5 responses to “In Daddy’s Genes

  1. Bee, I loved this. Especially the carved words, the curved brown in the same stanza. Not internal rhyme, but the same feel, like twin textures of language.

    From my POV, if I was doomed to be my mom, I’d be writing this with a cig in one hand and a glass of gin in the other. I made a conscious decision that, on matters that count, such as addiction and other habits, I’d go my own way. But damn if I didn’t find a picture of my mom the other day that is a wringer for me!

    As for your secret, whispered wish: You can’t beat the tendency for cancer, but you can know it runs in your family and live a different lifestyle. As for me, it’s all mental disorders, so I get treatment. You should put this one out there for publication, because everyone can identify, yet it’s an extremely personal, telling poem. Love, Amy

    • Amy, I love your comments 🙂 They always make my day!
      I had to use carved- wanted it to remain open about whether we write similarly (because, looking at both of my parents’ handwriting, mine is a near-perfect fusion of the two styles), or if I meant the way we speak, or whatever you like.

      Yes, this is a personal affirmation for me that, though I am shackled by DNA to certain members of my blood family, I don’t have to repeat the same mistakes, or follow their paths. Nature has its place, as does nurture, but my free will has to take the wheel. As such, I am NEVER getting married; or at least, not without a pre-nup! And I plan to make doc trips a regular occurrence, just in case- don’t want anything to sneak up on me, physically or mentally. I applaud your dedication to living as your own person!

      I’ll leave my comment for your poem at your site 🙂

  2. Pingback: Fibonacci Sequence | beespoetry

    • I will refer you to a quotation from myself for this one:
      “I’m opinionated, and sometimes these opinions aren’t nice, or politically correct, and I might offend you- and it’s a 50-50 chance that I will even attempt to feel bad about that.”

      Art isn’t always nice. Neither is life. I don’t need to apologize for this poem, or explain myself. I actually think this poem rather neatly explains itself, and my feelings on the matter. If your husband has an issue with the way I live my life and express myself, he only has himself to blame for not expressing interest earlier on in my life in a constructive manner.

      But I’m not angry with you, Diane. I hope you continue to read my other poems, despite potentially disturbing subject matter.

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