Several months ago I decided to participate in the Human Genome Project through National Geographic. When I called to order the kit, the young man reminded me that as a woman, I would receive only one half of my ancestry, the female half. Since women do not have a Y chromosome, a woman can only trace her female family line through her mitochondrial DNA. He suggested I use my grandson’s DNA so I would receive complete results. Of course, that meant that in the end, I would have to factor in what I knew about his father’s family and deduct that to determine my own. After the Geno 2.0 kit arrived, we took his cheek swabs and mailed them off. This week when we returned from an 11 day family road trip, the results arrived. With the results came detailed explanations of human migratory history and even comparisons of populations with DNA most like his. Although none were close, the top two groups were people in Bermuda and Mexican Americans. Luckily, the information contained a detailed explanation of the people of Bermuda. The Native American results I expected since his great grandfather was Navaho. Other parts came as somewhat a surprise. Once again I am taking a poetry class and now working on publishing a book of my poetry so I decided to write a poem about this experience.
The results loom before me on
the computer, percentages:
Northern European, Mediterranean,
Native American, Neanderthal,
sub Sahara African, South African–
as in the Bushmen in the Kalahari,
Northeast Asian, Southwest Asian.
Suddenly, calculations move through
my brain. I look again, add, subtract,
recalculate, stare, ponder. Is there
a family secret I missed? How will
I know, from whom?
Everyone I could ask is dead.