The Idea of Ancestry – Ethridge Knight

The Idea of Ancestry

Taped to the wall of my cell are 47 pictures: 47 black
faces: my father, mother, grandmothers (1 dead), grand-
fathers (both dead), brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts,
cousins (1st and 2nd), nieces, and nephews.They stare
across the space at me sprawling on my bunk.I know
their dark eyes, they know mine.I know their style,
they know mine.I am all of them, they are all of me;
they are farmers, I am a thief, I am me, they are thee.

I have at one time or another been in love with my mother,
1 grandmother, 2 sisters, 2 aunts (1 went to the asylum),
and 5 cousins.I am now in love with a 7-yr-old niece
(she sends me letters in large block print, and
her picture is the only one that smiles at me).

I have the same name as 1 grandfather, 3 cousins, 3 nephews,
and 1 uncle. The uncle disappeared when he was 15, just took
off and caught a freight (they say).He’s discussed each year
when the family has a reunion, he causes uneasiness in
the clan, he is an empty space.My father’s mother, who is 93
and who keeps the Family Bible with everbody’s birth dates
(and death dates) in it, always mentions him.There is no
place in her Bible for “whereabouts unknown.”

Etheridge Knight
I was fortunate enough to meet him once during an English Lit class in college. I later discovered this poem. It really shows our deep connection to each other across space and time.
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Author: nichellemhayes

I am a part-time blogger and a full time observer of people and culture. I have been researching my family history for over 20 years. I previously served as President and President-Elect (Vice-President) of one the local genealogy groups. I’ve conducted genealogy lectures and training's for corporate organizations and family history centers. I have researched my maternal and paternal sides going back 7 generations. With all that work, there is still more to discover. My genealogical goals for 2014 are to submit to libraries and history centers, family history books covering several of my family lines. I am available for consultation.

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