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I know of an Irish convict whose hair is a dark rust color,
arrested and shipped to an
unknown land for stealing bread to feed his sickly baby sister.


I know a quick-witted unemployed lawyer with a cocaine addiction.
He has a smile that wilts the hearts and inhibitions
of unsuspecting, beautiful women.


I know a large, grey-haired woman who is the youngest of 13 siblings,
the mother of 5, and the grandmother of 23. With a set weekly routine
and a weakness for sparkling wine, she embodies the ultimate matriarch.


I know a flame-haired marriage celebrant with the prettiest white house,
and a stillborn son she still mourns 30 years after his death.


I know of an unspoken affair between a 16-year-old girl and a married man
that rocks the foundations of a family; a family held together
by secrets, smiles and silence.


Soot, sand, earth, cloud. Multicolored hair and eyes,
sharing the same source of DNA.
This is part of a family tree. It is old, twisted, knotted and unwavering.
It reaches into the soil of the lives of those that created it, fusing them together.

We are all the product of the same seed.
Donna E. Shalala was the U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary under Bill Clinton and is currently the President of the University of Miami. She is reading a poem by Erin Robson, a former foreign exchange student at the university. Robson was born in a small coastal town in Australia called Shellharbour. She has completed part of a degree in biological science and is now studying English Literature at the James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland. Although she has been writing for most of her life, it was while on exchange at the University of Miami this past fall– and under the guidance of Christina Frigo – that she began pursuing it more seriously. She digs prose poetry and pantoums, but is thinking about attempting a novella sometime in the near future.