still life with pedigree
at school they’d say why do you talk like that
is what you think you are nice goody two
in contrast to / as opposed ?
but really: have you inherited a dozen ways
to say your name differently,
as in do you really think
he’s like us?
and my father means the man
I love who was raised up in a country church who has an accent do I think he’s [ ] enough /
a clutch of adjectives / my hair wrapped around my own skinny neck
walking down an aisle for my first Communion, promising to believe something
I could not yet name. swearing to leave God knows what on the altar / to be an altar
to commune with a dusty sort of holiness [swearing to something in Latin / to a swath
of pink lilies] although flowers make me sneeze I’m allergic to certain inheritances but others I wear light as the veil that day
William Henry Fox Talbot. “Veil”: Engine Ruled Lines, Crossed at Right Angles, possibly July 29, 1859. Photographic engraving, 15.6 × 13.8 cm. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.
Irène Mathieu is a pediatrician, writer, and global public health researcher. She is winner of the Bob Kaufman Book Prize and Yemassee Journal’s Poetry Prize, and author of the book orogeny (Trembling Pillow Press, 2017) and poetry chapbook the galaxy of origins (dancing girl press & studio, 2014). Irène has received fellowships from the Fulbright Program and the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop. She is on the speakers’ bureau for Jack Jones Literary Arts. For more, please visit her website: www.irenemathieu.com.