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Letters From Women Given Up For Adoption at Birth

I

This morning I thought how easy
it must have been for you
to have copied your genetic code
in the form of flesh, dated randomly
on that bleak day in December
when the light had the dull luster
of pewter and the blinds had to be drawn.

The day ended my tenancy
in the womb which you otherwise
ripped out of your daily planner,
and being the unwanted, the mistake,
had given up in offering
like the body and blood of Christ.

Every day I struggled
to carry the weight of a lesson,
a refugee of abandonment, reading
through the pages of Catechism books
just before the Crucifixion,
practicing forgiveness.

Now, I must live with the side effects
of an uncommon childhood
like an addiction: a returned identity card,
the genetic code lost in the blood of the unborn―
those blueprints of family history
that build the strong bones of a monument,
revised by the thin scrawl of your signature
on a line that forever divides.

II

If to gaze into that mirror
as though the glass is convex―
if we could first look inward,
then outward―

if we could study profile like the face
of a moon in each of its phases―
would we find our identity?

How much of you would I see
at each angle― full, half, quartered―
that I would not have seen
in the mirror handed me
had its glass not been convex?


What do I know of you
in my arched brow?
In the discharged turmoil
of my eye? In a single gesture?

What do I know
in learning to give up, give back, give away,
that I would not have known
had I been of the same will?


III

I cannot find you
down those stairways
that lead into the deepest catacombs
of family history, buried treasure,

a chest sealed years ago
in the shadow of your footprints;
in the dust of light beams
through the windows in the hall of records.

Nor can I see you in the genetic code
that cannot be deciphered―
those diseases that will torment the blood,
and in the pain that encapsules
our time-released lives―

although
that is where I will find you.

Submitted: Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Edited: Saturday, April 16, 2011


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Comments about this poem (When We Haven't Said Goodbye by Joanne Monte )

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  • Heather Wilkins (9/25/2013 6:39:00 PM)

    A touching poem. Adoption at birth could be a disturbing thing.

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  • Sue S. (3/12/2009 1:33:00 AM)

    This poem made my heart turn over. It is amazing.

  • Coach Roth (2/6/2008 4:33:00 AM)

    I have never known anyone given up for adoption at birth, but if I did, I can only imagine that this is how it would feel...eloquent and touching and perhaps for those who have been given up...true.

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