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.
Then, finally a person worth writing down.
She was born on the plantation of a great grandfather—
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.