We’re diddicoys, my father laughed. Moving with the work, living off the land. My great grandmother, the matriarch, cursed loudly, drank deeply, stole when she could. Split a Jackdaw’s tongue with silver, crooning sweet nothings in her ear. A family tree without roots, branches grasping across the years.

Dark hair and olive skin a daughter’s gift, dark heart and magpie fingers, a mother’s bane.

A crone, for no other word will do, crouching over an open fire, tearing muddy crusts from hedgehogs, spines sprung from fishy flesh. Always poised, watchful, rheumy eyes belying the sharp reflex, the bony grip.

Does my blood remember the shock of a brook in dawn light, frosted dew underfoot? Do echoes pulse through my veins: the beat of hooves on dusty tracks, the crack of a songbird’s shell?

Generations sharing so much, yet years away and lives apart.

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