My Inheritance

by August 20, 2009 0 comments

I wish I could find the loose seam
of me where I can unravel myself,
pull back the flesh and check
under each hot organ, just to make sure
that everything lays where it should
that no little cells are misbehaving like naughty school children.
I could feel that my bones are thick, solid,
not hollow and light like a little bird’s wing.

My mother asks me if I will get the cancer test.
And I remember being 24 getting my first mammogram.
She says it’s my choice,
but I wonder what difference it will make.
When the dial on my life changes, it changes,
without permission.
And maybe not knowing
and waiting and wondering
is my inheritance.
The way the night sky gets to keep the stars
till they explode and shatter as if made of glass.
The way the river keeps the stones that fall in its path
and the ocean keeps all the wishes cast in bottles from the beginning of time.
All the heartache
that makes up this story is carved around my skull,
and floats behind my eyes each night.

“No,” I tell her, “not today.
But if I change my mind, I’ll let you know.”

She says she understands,
and her words sound heavy like bones
cracking under the weight of all these questions.
She is sorry, because she is a mother,
for what has passed at birth in the making of
our lives, in the rickety ladder of these chromosomes
the dominant, the recessive
the little consciousness that sits patient like an old poet inside me
holding the answer in a silver chest.
Her news is neither good nor bad,
it is just my inheritance.

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