Confession

I am not just Irish, not just my father’s daughter

And I thought I was.

Growing up in ignorance.

I remember my father’s words.

“Slavery…” he’d say. Our family wasn’t even here.

 

I’d say nothing. But I’d think, “Yeah, I like that.”

We were in Ireland enslaved or starving.

Not heroic or glamorous, I know.

Still a less barbaric truth to be sure.

So… “Yeah, okay. My family wasn’t even here.”

 

My family wasn’t even here.

And how fascinating I find genealogy. Anyone’s.

I don’t know a lot,

But I know that I am many people’s choices.

The result of suffering and of love.

 

And I know that I am Irish.

That I wish I’d met my grandparents.

Oh what a different world…

How interestingly time goes by.

How insignificant we are and yet essential for the next.

 

I learned my mom is English, Dutch, but wait…

Dad would say, “Slavery?” I pause—

Because my family was here.

“But Dad, MY family was here.”

 

Mom’s family was here.

And I am the result of that.

The result of land treaties with the Native Americans.

The result of histories of greed and abuse.

I am descendent of escaped prisoners, of record keepers

And of drunks.

 

I am also of the slave owner, and no he wasn’t Irish, Dad.

And I am not just Irish.

I am White American

A product of so many choices.

A history with roots in blood.

I’ve learned.

 

 

Then, finally a person worth writing down.

She was born on the plantation of a great grandfather—

Sovereign Truth.

 

What a remarkable, admirable woman,

Fighting for so many enslaved women’s rights,

Their hopes, their children’s lives.

But I am not of her.

I exist because of the choices her master made.

 

And Dad, I’m sorry.

But the history of me, of how I came to be

Is not a Hallmark card.

 

3 thoughts on “Confession

  1. Kayleigh Korycinski says:

    Hey Chrissy! Love your poem its very interesting to lookback on all the people that are the reason we are here today. Looking forward to reading more. Great post!

    1. chrissyellerson says:

      I think so too! Thanks Kayleigh! In a world where people often debate creation, i always think that the one thing I am sure of is that I am here because of so many other people’s decisions, good and bad. One change and I wouldn’t be. I find that fascinating. Can’t wait to show you the genealogy information I’ve gathered some time.

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