Etheridge Knight

(1931 - 1991 / Mississippi)

The Idea of Ancestry


Taped to the wall of my cell are 47 pictures: 47 black
faces: my father, mother, grandmothers (1 dead), grand-
fathers (both dead), brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts,
cousins (1st and 2nd), nieces, and nephews.They stare
across the space at me sprawling on my bunk.I know
their dark eyes, they know mine.I know their style,
they know mine.I am all of them, they are all of me;
they are farmers, I am a thief, I am me, they are thee.

I have at one time or another been in love with my mother,
1 grandmother, 2 sisters, 2 aunts (1 went to the asylum),
and 5 cousins.I am now in love with a 7-yr-old niece
(she sends me letters in large block print, and
her picture is the only one that smiles at me).

I have the same name as 1 grandfather, 3 cousins, 3 nephews,
and 1 uncle. The uncle disappeared when he was 15, just took
off and caught a freight (they say).He's discussed each year
when the family has a reunion, he causes uneasiness in
the clan, he is an empty space.My father's mother, who is 93
and who keeps the Family Bible with everbody's birth dates
(and death dates) in it, always mentions him.There is no
place in her Bible for "whereabouts unknown."

Submitted: Monday, January 20, 2003

Do you like this poem?
0 person liked.
0 person did not like.

Read poems about / on: family, mother, father, birth, dark, death, sister, brother, smile

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (The Idea of Ancestry by Etheridge Knight )

Enter the verification code :

Read all 1 comments »

Trending Poets

Trending Poems

  1. The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
  2. Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
  3. If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
  4. To an Athlete Dying Young, Alfred Edward Housman
  5. The Tiger, William Blake
  6. Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas
  7. Fire and Ice, Robert Frost
  8. Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe
  9. Dreams, Langston Hughes
  10. No Man Is An Island, John Donne

Poem of the Day

poet Alfred Edward Housman

The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.

...... Read complete »

   

Member Poem

New Poems

  1. Truth, Please, Sandra Feldman
  2. can I be..., Ganesh Veeraraghavan
  3. As You Laid There, GJG Elton
  4. At the market..., Ganesh Veeraraghavan
  5. Below, Frank Avon
  6. God's own..., Ganesh Veeraraghavan
  7. 2 Fast And The Furious, Mark Harper
  8. midnight dream, Cee Bea
  9. know you are there...., Ganesh Veeraraghavan
  10. You Are Your Wish, Gbolagade Taiwo
[Hata Bildir]