Naming What Counts

I devised my first pedigree chart

when I was 10, a project

in the Camp Fire Girls

which promised a bead

upon completion. I collected

these colorful wooden signs

of accomplishment with ardor,

sewing them on a felt

vest, so proud of its weighty

importance when I donned it every Tuesday.

Of course, a chart of ancestors

is never done, reaching back

into the mists of time.

It only dawned on me slowly,

the deliberate erasure

of women who bore all these

children blessed with their fathers’

names, while the one that proved

her bloodline was lost.

Here lies Jane, loving mother

and daughter. She gave up her

identity for food and shelter

graciously bestowed by her father

and then her husband. Her mother

doesn’t really matter, let’s forget

about her. Disappointing tombstones.

I have spent so many hours

meticulously searching

through church records, birth certificates.

Determined to find the hidden branches

of my family tree. While all around me,

cultures still swallow women’s identities,

insisting that it is a sign of true

love to abandon a birth name.

My inheritance from the patriarchy

is not worth

mentioning, dirty paper crowded

with archaic words and arcane symbols.

The matriarchy is where the true power

resides, the creative womb,

infused with nameless

magnetic vibrations. That inner stillness

inside beckons us to the truth,

as we unwrap these trappings

and escape the incessant myths

designed to enslave us,

and free ourselves to love.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: pedigree

Published by

Victoria Stuart

I'm a poet, philosopher and inner seeker. A giver, lover and a healer who studies the heart.

8 thoughts on “Naming What Counts”

  1. Good story. I love genealogy (natural snoop I guess). It funny because I have more information on the women in the family than many of the men. One was adopted, one set of men only went by their initials, and the we won’t mention the number of marriages some of them had. Makes my tree look like it went through a wood chipper…lol. Other family histories I completed were the opposite (like you describe). I guess in a lot of ways it can show the personality of the family when looked at as a whole. I come from a bunch of head strong women and nutter men. You name it, I have it in my line.


  2. Excellent post on how women fade in the autumn to fall from our family trees and be raked away. Fortunately, I do have some strong maternal lines to follow on my tree.

    I do have to comment on the Camp Fire Girl beads. My mom had those and you brought them to mind, because I played with them as a child. I didn’t realize where they came from until I read this.


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