Childhood Memories: The Luck of the Irish

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I remember, years ago, when my brother was little, good things seemed to happen to him. (He once won a Beetlejuice contest and we all got a free trip to Hollywood, though it was a real downer when my parents went trolling for celebrity headstones).

I remember expecting to be picked up in a limousine, but an old man that reminded me of Alfred from the Batman show came for us in a Lincoln, holding up a sign that said Brooks. (Our name was Booker, which I never liked because kids would replace the k with a g.)

So yes, Kel (then Kelly), was lucky, and I would get so sick of my parents saying he had “the luck of the Irish,” to which I would exclaim, “He’s not Irish!”

Well, many years later, my parents would send their spit to have their DNA tested and so it turned out, he was.

We were.

And I am so glad that is something my mom got to do before she passed away, even though Dad got on her nerves with all his lamenting that she didn’t have any Jewish blood (which he though “prestigious”).

Dad, however, was thrilled when he found out he was one-third Scandinavian, or “Viking” (as he calls it). I’d considered getting him one of those helmets with the horns on it, though I could’ve sworn he was French, being so passive.

But even though DNA tells us where we came from, what we’re made of, and sometimes, where we’ve been (outer space in Scott Kelly’s case, for example), it doesn’t tell us where we’re going.

That is the story we get to write.

Writer’s Digest November Poem-a-Day 2017 Challenge #21. Theme: Deconstruction/Reconstruction

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Deconstructing Sarah

Constructed of the genes of my co-creators–
the sassy Black Irish,
the passive, graying Scandinavian (could’ve sworn Dad was French)–
I end up a shade of Romanian white,
sprinkled with freckles
where either angels kissed me
or peed on me.

I am broken down, reduced,
and deconstructed daily
by the elements of life:
Age, worry, stress, distress,
illness, frustration, exhaustion,
depression, desperation,
and sometimes anger.

Optimism has seen me through hunger and homelessness,
through carlessness and marital strife,
through my child’s unknown diagnosis,
through feelings of friendlessness and
the collapsing of my seemingly wonderful life.

Is Optimism the Holy Spirit’s name,
or is it something incomprehensible
that dwells inside me?
For does it not haunt my temple
in a pleasing way?

Is it I who holds onto Optimism
or does it hold on to me?
For everything in my life is broken,
but not shattered.
The cracks will always be there,
but that’s how the light comes in.
That’s where the wrinkles come from.

Optimism is why I’ve done
perhaps
everything I’ve ever done.
It is why I’ve chosen to stay here,
why I’ve chosen to go there.
It is why I know what I know,
and chose not to know
what I do not wish to know.

Every gray hair–
like the rings of a tree–
show the world
that I have made it this far.
And someday,
the day will come
when I will wash it away
with a five-dollar box of natural auburn,
and my body will run red with the steaming shower water
as if I have bled from every pore.

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