Today's poem is by Paul Muldoon

The Ancestor

The great-grandmother who bears down on us, as if beholding the mote
in our eye, from a nineteenth-century Hungarian portrait
on our library wall is no relation. Not even remote.
The straw-hatted man in a daguerreotype, though he and I may share the trait

of putting two fingers to the little carbuncle
on our right chin, is no more of my blood than I am
consanguineous with Cromwell. Our Webster's is inscribed "Philip. Best uncle."

Our napkins bear an unfamiliar monogram.

yet how familiar all become. Shaving mug, gymkhana rosette, five charms
from a charm bracelet—all those heirlooms
to which we're now the heirs are at once more presentable and

more present than our own. This great-grandmother with folded arms
who lurches and looms
across the library may not be so unreasoning in her reprimand.

Copyright © 2012 Paul Muldoon All rights reserved
from The Ancestor
The Chinese University Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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