By Jane Burn

 

I wish I could do that thing - that thing where you go

and find your great uncles, cousins thrice removed,

grannies, grampies. This trailing lineage spanning 

three times round the Earth. Papa was an Admiral! 

Great, great, great, great, great Grandma might just 

have been a suffragette! I want an ancestor like that. 

I want marathon runners, sky divers, train drivers, 

wheat farmers, creel weavers, bread bakers. Family, 

floating about in this binary swamp - little jellyfish, 

keyboard tadpoles, hidden friends. Tap, tap, tap - 

let us out, cry the coal miners, stewards, pilots, 

dandies, paupers and queens. We might have been grand. 

Some search engine holds them all tight, underneath

 

your fingertips. All you need is a name, a date -

her name might have been Amelia, your mother's,

mother's, mother's, mother's mother. She could

have lived in a chalet in Lapland, she could have called

her cows in, listened to bell-ring break the silence

of snow. She could have sat down to cross-stitch,

drank cognac, composed on her harpsichord.

I will not pass this shallow history on to my son. 

I will be his ancestral pirate, hairdresser, sous chef - 

will tell him about the time I worked in a factory, 

sewing the eyes on teddy bears. Bank robber, 

astronaut, smallholder, minister of faith - 

storyteller, spinner of yarns.

 

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Jane Burn is a writer and illustrator. Originally from South Yorkshire, she now lives in the North East of England. Her poems have been published in a wide range of magazines, from The Rialto, Under The Radar, The Interpreter's House, Iota Poetry, Strix and Crannog to name a few. Her work has also appeared in anthologies from Fairacre Press, Seren, The Emergency Poet, Beautiful Dragons and The Emma Press. Her first full collection, nothing more to it than bubbles is available from Indigo Dreams.