The Naming of Parts

by Meg Cox

Most obviously not hers are her hands;
they are her father’s, her grandfather’s,
cricketer’s hands, safe hands,
fat fingers “like a bunch of bananas”.
And now blotched on the back,
like her mother’s more elegant ones.
On Italian cobbles her mother
complained of her poor old feet
and now her daughter has them too,
hidden but painful reminders
(and webbed toes, just one or two).
Footballer’s knees. Her father’s
sisters’ big breasts, her own
distinctive hair colour, out of a bottle.
She’s been told that her grandmother
was tall too – long strong legs –
and wishes she’d passed on her
almond eyes as well, but
her cousins had them.
 
She never knew her mother’s family.
Which of her body parts are theirs?
Her tendency to fat? Big bum?
Whose long neck? Neat ears?
Or have some of them reappeared
after generations of silence?
 
When she meets herself by chance
in shop windows or unwelcome mirrors,
she glimpses all her ancestors
pieced into one.