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
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.