Poet Cornered 8

My daughter has just given birth to our first grandson and it made me think back to a poem I wrote fairly soon after the birth of our grand-daughter a couple of years ago. I was taking a photo of Lyla, my grand-daughter, in the arms of my daughter who was sitting next to my wife who was sitting next to her mother, my mother-in-law. It struck me how extraordinary it was to have four generations of women ‘sitting’ next to each other and led me to look into the idea of the Female Line.

Things quickly got very complicated and led me to the idea of Mitochondrial Eve - a term I’ll put some notes about after the poem. However, the poem is not complicated and just expresses the wonder I felt at being in the presence of such an important few links in such an amazing chain of related women.
In case you’re interested, here is a little more about the genetic background to the idea of the Female Line. What is below is just a précis of articles you can find in the wonderful Wikipedia.

Mitochondrial Eve is a term from genetics and refers to a woman whose mitochondrial DNA is the parent of all living humans. She is the most recent woman from whom all living humans descend in an unbroken line purely through their mothers and through the mothers of those mothers, back until all lines converge on one woman.

According to current research, Mitochondrial Eve lived about 200,000 years ago, most likely in East Africa when Homo Sapiens were developing as a population distinct from other human sub-species.

Genetics is a complicated study and there have been various misunderstandings about this term, the most common being that she must have been the ‘first woman’. However, matrilineal lineages die out and so the actual identity of Mitochondrial Eve would have moved forward to younger individuals over time. Furthermore, it is often said that she must have been the ‘only woman alive at the time’, and yet nuclear DNA studies indicate that the size of the ancient human population never dropped below tens of thousands. Other women living during Eve's time may have descendants alive today but not in a direct female line.