I’ve traced my ancestry, my family,
through courthouses and cemeteries
and no more than one-sixty-fourth

owned other men and only in the jaded
view of the law— my shameful heritage,
like many of my southern neighbors.

How could my slave holding grandfather
truly feel like he owned another man?
How could my family possess another family?

If we trace our grandmothers’ grandmothers’
back far enough, we’ll find we’re all cousins,
distant maybe, but cousins none the less— blood.

Don’t fault them for their lack of imagination,
pity them instead. You and I know our differences
are literally skin-deep. We’re all family.

(From this week’s Living Poetry Prompt: Kinfolk and current events. The photo is from my family archives.)

About Bartholomew Barker

Bartholomew Barker is one of the organizers of Living Poetry, a collection of poets and poetry lovers in the Triangle region of North Carolina. Born and raised in Ohio, studied in Chicago, he worked in Connecticut for nearly twenty years before moving to Hillsborough where he makes money as a computer programmer to fund his poetry habit.
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6 Responses to Skin-Deep

  1. JeanMarie says:

    Nice work cuz.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lisa Tomey says:

    Happy to have you as family.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. -Eugenia says:

    Excellent message and well done.

    Liked by 1 person

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