Today’s prompt for NaPoWriMo is to write a family-portrait poem. To be honest I wasn’t entirely sure what to write for this one. I’ve written about numerous family members before, my mother in ‘Your Sheep‘, my sister in ‘Jo’, my Great Gran in ‘Ba‘ and the women of my family as a whole in ‘The Women I Came From‘. Both my Grandfathers have poems about them, the one actually has two! The second poem ‘Rock’n’Roll‘ was more about him and my Grandmother watching their family grow up however. All in all my family has played a pretty massive part in inspiring my writing so today’s prompt is more than a little tricky. What is left to say that you as a reader won’t find in another one of my poems?
It’s the sort of family where everyone in Shropshire
is a cousin of some kind.
Introductions become a test of how many links
it takes to skip from you to them
and who in between you both know.
With Dad it’s a little different.
Irish mother, Scottish father,
scandal wedding and English small holding.
Three kids and almost no links to speak of…
Until the three weddings
a husband, two wives,
and all the family that came with them.
My mother is a Swinnerton
and they like to claim heritage back to 1066
where William the Conqueror earned his name
and Sir William Swinnerton got his stake of land
to do with what he will.
On this side therefore there are cousins in gaggles
and aunts, uncles, great upon great
until your head spins for so many generations
of such and such or so and sos.
There are those aunts that somehow know them all
and insist on telling you just how you relate
to the greater picture of the family
despite the fact ten minutes later
you’ve forgotten her name as well.
My family is a great, sprawling mess
impossible to escape.
Any yet when I left for uni
I missed nothing more
than the feeling of belonging
to something larger than myself.