Saturday, 24 February 2018

looks like

I have lived my life
in the shadow
of this one thing:
not ignorance about
the music of von Webern
or ignorance about
how to speak German
or even ignorance about
quantum physics
my ignorance about such things?
it almost goes
without saying
but my ignorance about them
is not complete
or total
I have heard at least twelve notes
of von Webern
which is enough to know
that I do not wish
to hear another twelve notes
of von Webern
I can say
Ich bin eine apfel strudel
whenever the conversation
turns towards
who can speak German?
which admittedly isn’t really
that often
I say it
with more confidence and authority
than I should
I am an apple strudel
ha ha ha
and I even have
two books
about quantum physics
although I did not get past
page 4
on either of them
and the first three pages
made as much sense to me
as Ancient Greek
although I’m not
completely ignorant
about Ancient Greek either
I can recite the Ancient Greek alphabet
having studied it as a schoolboy
highly educated
that I am
the ignorance
I allude to
the ignorance
in whose shadow
I have blindly stumbled
ambled shambled
and mumbled
is that overwhelming ignorance
the ignorance
of self
which comes from
                                   not knowing where
you come from
it ambushes your days
your weeks
your months
and your years
when you go to the doctor
and she asks about
your family history
and you explain
that you were
although you don’t explain
that you are sick
of explaining
that you were adopted
by the way
never once did a doctor
ever say
that must be rather difficult
for you
I see
okay then
and you wonder what it is
that they see
and what it is
that is okay
when you are in church
and the priest says
we are all god’s adopted children
and your heart beats
like it’s World War III
which is
and you think
either I was adopted twice
or this priest
doesn’t know
what he’s talking about
at a family gathering
during their bonding sessions
is turning into
Aunty Mary
looks just like
his dad
is as beautiful as
her mother
and Paul has inherited
David’s green fingers
while you sit there
working out
that what this really means
is that
are the only person
in the world
that you
are related to
and when my adoptive mother
the aforementioned Sally
came to see
my oldest son Fintan
when he was less than one day old
because with really young babies
you can see who they look like





I was going to end
this little poem
written in the style
of Kirill Medvedev
by saying something along the lines of
if you’re adopted I feel an instant affinity
with you
for you alone share my ignorance
and know what it feels like
everyone else?
you can guess
and then finish on a final flourish
about how adopted people
somehow have to find a way
to own their lack of knowing
while most adoptive parents
won’t even admit
that when it comes to adoption
they are
somewhat astonishingly
but nothing lasts forever
including miraculously
my own ignorance
and that is how last weekend happened
when I met my father’s brother Patrick
for the first time
and my cousin Helen
for the first time
and also my cousin Howard
for the first time
by the way
looks like Fintan


  1. Wonderfully expressed, Fergus. Only fellow adoptees will truly understand x

    1. I think so, Polly. We are each other's mirrors, but hopefully we can give an insight to what it's like through our poetry.

  2. When your wounds are open and on display they heal people. Your black humour interwoven with the web you take as ropes to climb through life moves the hell out of me. I see it, like Fred Voss the poet from America who champions honesty and bring the view to the wary beholder you are a gift to art Fergus that some will accept like Frankincense and others who will go to the other room to smell their own bullshit.

    1. Thanks, Antony. The courage of your own writing remains an inspiration. You journey where other people fear to even look.