Kathleen Griffin

Rookie (October 5,1948 / New York, New York)

Clifting - Poem by Kathleen Griffin

The limestone crumbles
under our scrabbling feet,
the fossil starfish
glimmer just out of sight.

The line is firmly knotted
to this defunct family tree,
loosened about the roots
and lifting up from the County Down.
These crampons hook on the shale,
carrying over the names, the dates
of death and birth.
Did your mother come from Ireland?

Citizenship is based
on dissent from descent,
proving the parentage
of a resident alien,
and other documentation...
What was the name before
you anglicized it?
Where was your grandfather from
before he ran?

Our genealogical research staff
will do a computerized search
based on your memory.
Order your family coat-of-arms

Only the fisherman’s net
spills between us and St. Patrick’s
purgatorial sea;
will it hold or will we
and the starfish dissolve,
sieved through the rough seine?

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Poem Submitted: Monday, April 10, 2006

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