Multifactorial Inheritance

they look inside the palm of a mother’s hand and find 
what had been sought after for every generation:
evidence that each zippered genome marries itself with
an illness; mental sickness passing through the blood.

What had been sought after for every generation?
documented traumas informing clinicians of circumstances, of 
an illness; mental sickness passing through the blood,
answering pleas from every daughter asking “what’s wrong?”

documented traumas inform clinicians of circumstances of 
who precedes daughters, and who preceded her, and she who 
answers pleas from every daughter asking “what’s wrong?”
answer: her predecessor, whose softness contains multitudes of dysfunction.

the one who precedes every new daughter, duplicating traits she loathes from herself,
imposing imperfection to descendants in her line of genetic mutation.
each element she originates streaming through each vulva, each lip 
different than the ones before and each child asks “what’s wrong

with me?” as hairs pepper their cusps hued congo pink, ellipses trail torsos,
lines burrowing further as years pass, striping their bodies with inheritance 
of weight watchers on fridays and hiit classes on sundays at fourteen, 
all are a scapegoat from her cervix migrating across the generational gap

all are pressing their lips together, puckering vulvas between their thighs
praying the tingling goes away when they see outlines of breasts, praying
numbness dissipates when they sit on a park bench, praying it all breaks, preventing
what they found inside the palm of her mother’s hand.


Kay E. Bancroft (they/them) is a queer non-binary poet, educator, editor, and reviewer from Cincinnati, OH. They hold an MFA in Creative Writing: Poetry from Randolph College, and a BA from the University of Cincinnati. They serve as Poetry reader for Frontier Poetry and Poetry/Hybrid reader for Longleaf Review. You can find their writing in Voicemail Poems, Hooligan Magazine’s “Spilled Ink,” Cotton Xenomorph, Longleaf Review, The Rumpus, Beyond Queer Words, and more. Explore their work at