Based on a study that posits that the children of Holocaust survivors may inherit genes altered by their parents’ trauma, Megan Collins’ poem beautifully ponders how to live with the tragic fact that “blood remembers blood.”

Megan Collins reads “The Inheritance of Trauma”

The Inheritance of Trauma

Megan Collins

If I could rewrite the code that’s settled as sediment in the marrow of your bones,

you would never know the stench of burning flesh, never instinctively hold your breath against a breeze.

When you were a baby, your fingers used to bleed, your skin so thin the moon illuminated your skeleton.

I never wanted your body to echo my own, never wanted your voice to scrape in your throat

like footsteps dragging on gravel. But still—you seek out your sleep on the floor, count the grains of rice

on your plate, imagining each one as a corpse. When you bathe, I feel your fear through the door,

hear you thrashing as you drown the bars of soap. What I didn’t know is that blood remembers blood,

and if I could drain yours from your veins like water from a tub, I would leave you dry and ghostless.

Megan Collins holds an MFA in creative writing from Boston University. She teaches creative writing at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, as well as literature at Central Connecticut State University. She is also an editor for 3Elements Review. Her work has appeared in many journals, including Compose, Linebreak, Spillway, Rattle and Tinderbox Poetry Journal. Visit her website at

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