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The Idea of Ancestry
By Etheridge Knight


Taped to the wall of my cell are 47 pictures: 47 black
faces: my father, mother, grandmothers (1 dead), grand-
fathers (both dead), brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts,
cousins (1st and 2nd), nieces, and nephews.They stare
across the space at me sprawling on my bunk.I know
their dark eyes, they know mine.I know their style,
they know mine.I am all of them, they are all of me;
they are farmers, I am a thief, I am me, they are thee.

I have at one time or another been in love with my mother,
1 grandmother, 2 sisters, 2 aunts (1 went to the asylum),
and 5 cousins.I am now in love with a 7-yr-old niece
(she sends me letters in large block print, and
her picture is the only one that smiles at me).

I have the same name as 1 grandfather, 3 cousins, 3 nephews,
and 1 uncle. The uncle disappeared when he was 15, just took
off and caught a freight (they say). He's discussed each year
when the family has a reunion, he causes uneasiness in
the clan, he is an empty space. My father's mother, who is 93
and who keeps the Family Bible with everbody's birth dates
(and death dates) in it, always mentions him. There is no
place in her Bible for "whereabouts unknown."

--------

One more by Knight, Mary Karr's first poetry teacher. "He had a scraggly moustache and a soul patch above his chin. His jaw was lumpy and uneven, with patches of white skin edged in pink -- ragged and tear-shaped," she writes in Sunday's Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World. "Knight condensed his story this way: 'I died in Korea from a shrapnel wound and narcotics resurrected me. I died in 1960 from a prison sentence and poetry brought me back to life.' In his work, he's still living."

Adam has braces back on his upper teeth. Needless to say, he is not pleased about this development (and has a headache). I took the kids out to lunch since he was required to have mushy food and voted for sushi and udon noodles, then sent them to the pool for a couple of hours while I fought off my monthly migraine and tried to figure out what Facebook had done to its organization. I had ordered a book of Josephine Wall art, and studying fantasy goddesses is always relaxing for me.


I took lots and lots of gratuitous photos of HMS Surprise at the San Diego Maritime Museum. Here are some of them.


Here is her figurehead...


...and the view of San Diego through her rigging.


Picture Stephen Maturin sitting back here sulking because Jack wouldn't let him visit the Galapagos.


Though the crew is getting her ready to sail and there's an exhibit on pirates below, some of the guns and hammocks seen in the film are still in place.


This amused me because I'd never seen a photo of it before: the remote steering station built for the movie, so that when it looks like Billy Boyd or Russell Crowe is at the helm, a professional seaman could be down here controlling the hydraulics and Caterpillar diesel engines.


The great cabin has been refitted for cruises on San Diego Bay, so not all of the film exhibits are still aboard...


...but there is still a display of costumes from the film!


You get Master and Commander-related photos tonight because the kids made me watch Robot Chicken and one of the skits was about a woman who won Russell Crowe's trash in a contest and was wearing his unwashed underwear on her head. (The episode was "Atta Toy" since I am sure someone will ask!) Our other evening TV was The X-Files' "Little Green Men" and "The Host" -- we have a box set with those episodes through "One Breath" on VHS, and since we have none on DVD, we figured the second season was as good a place to watch as any. I didn't even realize how much I was missing the show till the movie...

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