Ann Kathryn Kelly
I am from an Irish Clan’s love,
strong as bedrock, deep as ocean.
The baby in the family almost taken,
decades after baby fat grew lean.
I am from a surgeon’s scalpel,
my Superman in a cape of blue scrubs,
who outran, outflew, outwitted
red kryptonite inside me.
I’m from dusty dirt roads,
a slouching red barn, rust-streaked tin hat.
A tidy white Cape Cod house
on a remote, windswept hill.
I’m from bleeding heart plants, tall in my garden.
Arched stems heavy with
hearts of red
that nod to me on a June breeze.
I’m from candlelit nights and birthday songs,
small table, voices lifted, off-key and giddy.
My siblings crowded ‘round, my father’s eyes dancing.
We bang the table in a tribal whoop.
I’m from Leonard T. Senior and Leonard T. Junior,
the former quiet and gentle,
the latter forever laughing.
Forever loving, from the grave.
I’m from “We can overcome anything,
in bite-sized pieces.” My tumor, decades later,
picked from the tangles of my brain
I’m from Irish Catholics, centuries long.
In our blood, our hearts, breaking our
hearts as scandal spread and
we turned not the other cheek, but our souls. Away.
I’m from Philadelphia scrapple,
the unwanted parts of the pig.
Crisp skin, gooey center
of goodness and spices and lard.
I’m from my maternal great-grandmother,
washed ashore from County Tipperary to Philadelphia.
Age 13, expected to work 14
-hour days, laundering, on a concrete floor.
And yes, the soldier’s song is true,
t’is indeed “a long way to Tipperary.”
And, from Tipperary,
especially in third-class.
I’m from a lineage of Clans:
The Kelly’s, the Meehan’s,
the McGee’s, McCusker’s,
Preserved in memory, on film,
on tintype, paper-thin.
A prick, as thumb brushes pitted metal,
caressing a mustache, waxed and curled.
The studio backdrop mossy,
through time’s passage.
The depths of our lineage an ocean bottom.
A sunken ship, glimpsed.