Doing The Blood Work

1. The Inheritance

Most family truths lie audibly unsaid

and I, a child who probed to no avail,

learned any who could answer me were dead.


For years, through dimming hope lit by bright dread,

I staggered alone along abandoned trails,

till I ceased caring. Then of course, news came. Unsaid


though, any testament except half-lies, spoon fed

by two half-brothers, new-found, who wore my smile.

I cared again. Yet they were true sons of our undead


father, who’d rutted my mother in a ghostly bed.

A secret child, to father and sons, required denial

of what they dared not know. Still, truth’s unsaid


the whole world over; everyone has bled

their part; how else but numb can the heart prevail?

So my twice-lost half-blood kin claimed, dead


to untold truths from which lifelong they’d fled.

Many die out their days this way and will

their children’s truths in turn to lie unsaid.

But I’m done caring who lies living, who lies dead.


2. Not By Halves

Do two half brothers make one whole?

I thought they might. I thought

this meeting, late in life, was like a minor miracle.

I’d learn so many things! But not what I expected.


One brother, middle child, stalks his life

famished for the father he disappointed

despite all he tried. So he beat ploughshares

into swords, grew sons who are religious warriors.


The other, the youngest, our father’s favorite,

reenacts the tearless manhood he’d learned

so well, emotions stored inside as citadel despite

his music’s artistry that blurred my seeing him for tears.


Civilized, intelligent, educated men, neither

was prepared for the elder sister whose existence

they’d discovered decades earlier and had

pursued but briefly, fearful and half-hearted.


Our father dead now, everyone spoke earnestly

at first, through bad translation. But his ghost rose

and walked, reminding his sons they’d been taught

secrets, half truths, denials, rationales. It took some


years to raise my old scars by these new means,

but in good time, livid, the wounds ran fresh.

It’s necessary to relearn trust

before one can relearn betrayal.


The distance with the older already formal,

that fracture was less painful. The younger, a performer,

promised more than he decided to deliver, though.

His children we can leave in charitable silence.


It’s calmer now they’re gone

and I’m an only child again.

Their absence is as normal as my father’s was

Now all is wept and done,


stains of our personal blood libel rinsed

off by a family history engraved on water.

They were always their father’s sons

I was always my mother’s daughter.







Photo by Jorge Gardner on Unsplash

Robin Morgan

Journalist, editor, activist and child actor, Robin Morgan has been a leader in the feminist movement since the 1960s. Morgan ...more