Jan 12, 2011 - What We're Reading

Warm-up to PMWC: More Poetry

The 3rd annual Personalized Medicine World Conference is less than one week away, so we thought we’d share a few more of our favorite poetry contest entries.

Double Dactyl for a Double Helix
by Mark Cackler

SNPity, SNPity,
Personalized medicine
Looks at our DNA;
Tells us our traits.

Phenotype research can
Give us our haplogroup
If not our mates.

The Small Things
by Roopa Ramamoorthi

I observe the almond eyes in the mirror
the phenotype I inherited from my mother
the chubby cheeks–I study the similarity
to my grandmother and
descend into my ancestry, imagine those same chubby cheeks
in the faded black and white photo
of my great-great-great grandfather
head wrapped in white turban
a high court judge

Another photo again in black and white
same cheeks, a solemn smile
My great-grandmother fingering
violin and bow
What I do not see are the SNP’s
base changes in certain genes–her genotype
Or was it the epigenome, those tiny methyl tags
that made her die of diabetes
when my grandmother was only eight
before Banting and Best’s breakthrough of insulin
was available in India

A family inheritance not of fortune
but diabetes descending to my grandmother and mother
Now crossing forty as I tremble to see
a high triglyceride profile–wonder how long
I can ward this off–

Those small things that matter most
Maybe the ten things about you I needed to know mother
were not details about your youth and childhood
like your favorite novel as a teenager
or your being best at badminton
but the ten SNP’s and tags on your chromosomes
That may have travelled to me
Making me vulnerable
like you

The First Generation
by Lisa Friedman


A gene travels through time,
Hundreds and hundreds of years,
Parent to child, parent to child,
Direct to me.

So many women and men
Along this long line
Had cancer,
Breast and ovarian;
Prostate, pancreatic, or melanoma.
So many died young.

One small change in DNA,
Chromosome 17, my BRCA 1 gene,

I learned the risk to my health and
An MRI showed I already had cancer.
I found my tumor early,
Long before I would have known to look.

90% of cancer caught early is curable.
I ask my oncologist
What curable means.
She says,
Curable means
We can make cancer go away
And stay away.

A dangerous gene travels through time,
Parent to child, parent to child,
For hundreds and hundreds of years.
I live in the first generation to know.

Thank you 23andMe.

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