Map of My Origins

My grandparents are all from Sicily, brave,
unschooled souls who came through Ellis Island
in their twenties, married paisans who did
the same. My DNA test tells me more, smears
my ancestry across all of Southern Europe
to include Spain, Portugal, France, Greece.
The swirl bleeds to touch Turkey, Azerbaijan,
Morocco, Tunisia. Did those poor Sicilians
get to travel? No. That little island—
a crossroad, invaded again and again. Perhaps
they finally said, Make love, not war.
In my genome you see the footprints of those
from Jordan, Lebanon, Syria. Is it gene
recognition when I see anguished faces
of refugees and want to help? Or is it
my coding as a human that activates
my brain’s tender regions to respond
to any person’s plight?

Photo: ©Joan Mazza All Rights Reserved


Joan Mazza

Joan Mazza has worked as a medical microbiologist, psychotherapist, seminar leader, and has been a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. She is the author of six books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Penguin/Putnam), and her poetry has appeared in Rattle, Whitefish Review, Off the Coast, Kestrel, Slipstream, American Journal of Nursing, The MacGuffin, Mezzo Cammin, and The Nation. She ran away from the hurricanes of South Florida to be surprised by the earthquakes and tornadoes of rural central Virginia, where she writes poetry and does fabric and paper art.

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