Of Bloodlines and Such

She carries her lineage in the
small of her back, just above
the bustle which would surely
be part of her attire, were she
of their day, her ancestors.

Mayflower women are proud,
even haughty, never naughty;
and if so, seldom caught (perish
the thought of the “madam”
in New York City, years ago).

They are of noble blood and
starchy stock. They gather in
Upper East Side ballrooms to
show off their new jewelry.
They are drinkers of tea who
find delicate delight in light
lunches: scones and fruit.

To admire them is to pay
homage to everything that
built America: Robbing and
enslaving indigenous people
and Africans by way of “trade,”
insider stock tips, country clubs
with signs discouraging Jews,

the Junior League, whining
about illegals while employing
them to do yard work for no
real money. I should know.
My father’s ancestors arrived
aboard the Mayflower, and
I’m still trying to live it down.

I shall never wear DAR prim
white gloves; never parade in
fancy hats; and certainly, I shall
never forget that, when my
mother’s family came to these
shores, they were met by signs:

No Irish Need Apply.

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

For Trifecta, who asked for a poem about blood, specifically the definition which includes bloodlines, noble birth, and that sort of hogwash. My Aunt Caroline was a member of the DAR, the Mayflower Society, and all that other “Ladies Who Lunch” bunkum. She’d never have said “shit,” even if she had a mouthful – but she blithely exploited Spanish-speaking maids, thought the poor “lazy,” and had nothing good to say about anyone who wasn’t rich and “well-bred,” especially my mom’s “pigs-in-the-parlor” Irish relatives. They, in careful New England fashion, mocked my mother mercilessly (Dad didn’t notice; it takes a woman’s touch). Therefore, this is my present to Charlotte for Mother’s Day, this being my 21st without her brilliant presence. Also to Riley, who understands why being a snob is counterproductive – and for her, counter-intuitive.

I am my mother’s daughter, proud to be living proof that Black Irish Laughlins from Council Bluffs, Iowa, could have more empathy and common sense than all the Mayflower babes put together. As my Grandma Blanche said, “Show me a member of the DAR, and I’ll show you a woman who is frustrated, spoiled, and desperate.” I have nothing to add to that! Amy