Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Adopted (#SOL15, Day 3)

Ordinary Angels (M.A. Reilly, Dun Laoghaire, Ireland, 2008)

I.

A word uttered still fails to encompass the whole of meaning.  I think of this as I read the word adopted in the opening to Darcy Moore's post, DNA and My Ancestral Tree.  He writes:
I was adopted as a baby. My adoptive parents made no secret of that fact but never had any information they could share about my ancestry. I often wondered what my ancestors had experienced and where they originated. It made me sad that I would likely never know. It was not something I talked about and if the topic came up I was very philosophical about it all. 

Darcy chronicles what he learned about his deep ancestry by participating in the Genographic Project.  I was fascinated as I read.  Imagining the whole time that I too might participate in the project.  Spend $150 and this slight fee might enable me to name a past I cannot name today.


II.

Meaning is never stationary, never stable.
Language allows us to know partially.

               Adopted.

Sometimes it is too hard
                                           to breathe.


III.

Decades ago I traveled with Rob to Ireland and while there we spent one morning at the Joyce House--a place in the Republic where birth records are kept.  I went there armed, knowing my name at birth: Olivia Muldoon, and the year, date, and place of my birth (Stamullen, Ireland).

I knew as much as I could, and yet I found no record.

When I was leaving, a man working there stopped me and said that about 50% of the records were never collected as registering a birth was voluntary at that time in Ireland.  He said this with such kindness.


IV.

Later that day, after we left Dublin and travelled to Grange I wrote the following poem.





Lineage

At the Joyce House on Lombard Street
in Dublin—we climbed the staircase
to the second floor. The narrow aisles
of the registry were crowded with others
searching too. I looked through
the oversized ledgers, moving a finger
steadily down the long list of names—stopping
with a jerk at each sound that hinted
of my birth—only to breathe out
exhausted, and then continue on, till we each
had looked through the same six years of paper
and names and I knew no record would be found.


We left that Dublin office, traveled
north of Sligo to the seacoast town
of Grange. There I slept the length
of afternoon while you explored
some jagged coves. Later, you took
me in hand over tall grass dunes
to a cliff, overlooking the strong
Atlantic. We sat there, dangling
our feet well above the foam
and smashing waves,
as my finger traced
and retraced the rock
hardness of a fossil.

V.

It wouldn't be until years later that I understood that being adopted is not the same as being abandoned.  

Each requires its own sense of time.

12 comments:

  1. The structure of this piece just draws you in. Your prose sprinkled throughout gives such a glimpse into your thinking. What a powerful slice. Thank you for writing it.

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    1. Thank you Kim. Appreciate you taking time to read this SOL (slice of life) story. It's been on my mind.

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  2. Beautiful and poignant! I was touched by your journey - the weaving of the various genres in your post captures the vulnerablity and raw emotion of adoption. I look forward to reading future posts. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. I checked out your blog (Action is Elegance) and was so moved by what I saw and read there. Are these students' works? So curious.

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  3. Writing is giving into vulnerability. Your subject, too, speaks to the vulnerability of not knowing. I distinctly remember the day when the daughter my mom gave up for adoption in 1967 found her. You were brave to search and brave to write.

    Upon reading your post I realize how guarded I am in my writing style. If I may, I'd like to play with a similar craft at some point. In doing so I will be opening up my writing to a place I have rarely been brave enough to go. Thank you for the motivation.

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    1. It takes courage to tell stories. It's why I always appreciate in Ceremony when Leslie Marmon Silko tells us:

      “I will tell you something about stories . . . They aren't just entertainment. Don't be fooled. They are all we have, you see, all we have to fight off illness and death.”

      I look forward to reading your next story (and the one beyond that)...

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  4. This is my first time at your blog, and I am struck by your story-telling talent. This is a powerful piece. I loved the ending:
    We sat there, dangling
    our feet well above the foam
    and smashing waves,
    as my finger traced
    and retraced the rock
    hardness of a fossil.

    You created such a strong mood there. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

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    1. Holly, thanks so much for taking time to read the post. I hadn't thought abut the mood of the closing lines. Thanks for noticing that.
      I enjoy telling stories with words and images. Hope you'll stop by again:)

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  5. Wonderful Slice Mary Ann. I love your image and then the writing follows and we trace your steps. So good that you weren't alone.

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    1. I agree. It was great to have y husband with me. He held me up that day for sure:)

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  6. The word leads to a journey and then an acceptance...I so felt the poignancy of that finger tracing first the names on the ledger and then the outline of the fossil. There can be permanence in impermanence. Just love the way you search and write.

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    1. Wow. I love "permanence in impermanence". I never thought of it in that manner. I also didn't think about the duality of my finger on the ledger and tracing the ridges in the fossil. Thank you Tara for those insights.

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