Today’s poem comes from Sinéad Morrissey.
Sinéad was born in Portadown, County Armagh, Northern Ireland, and raised in Belfast. She earned her BA and PhD at Trinity College Dublin. After years of traveling and teaching abroad, she currently lives in Belfast, where she was appointed the city’s inaugural poet laureate in 2014.
Morrissey is the author of five books of poetry: There Was Fire in Vancouver (1996), Between Here and There (2001), The State of the Prisons (2005), Through the Square Window (2009), and Parallax and Selected Poems (Carcanet 2013, UK; FSG 2015, US). Parallax won the TS Eliot prize and is nominated for a National Book Critics Circle award. In her review of Parallax in the Telegraph, Charolette Runcie wrote that the book, “is an ambitious and complex collection, which takes as its broad theme the distance between what we see and how things really are.”
Morrissey has also received the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award, the Irish Times Poetry Now Award, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, and first place in the 2007 UK National Poetry Competition. She teaches creative writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry, Queen’s University, Belfast.
Genetics by Sinéad Morrissey
My father’s in my fingers, but my mother’s in my palms.
I lift them up and look at them with pleasure –
I know my parents made me by my hands.
They may have been repelled to separate lands,
to separate hemispheres, may sleep with other lovers,
but in me they touch where fingers link to palms.
With nothing left of their togetherness but friends
who quarry for their image by a river,
at least I know their marriage by my hands.
I shape a chapel where a steeple stands.
And when I turn it over,
my father’s by my fingers, my mother’s by my palms
demure before a priest reciting psalms.
My body is their marriage register.
I re-enact their wedding with my hands.
So take me with you, take up the skin’s demands
for mirroring in bodies of the future.
I’ll bequeath my fingers, if you bequeath your palms.
We know our parents make us by our hands.
I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!