Messier 71:  a globular cluster in the northern constellation Sagitta that spans 13 light years.

I became in a family way when I was 17. My foster mother started to accuse me of sleeping with her jobless boyfriend and changed the locks, leaving me to sleep outside many nights when they went out to clubs. I reported it to services, my teachers, and my nurses. I told my health teacher that I felt the stress affecting my child. I trusted him, I had no one. He told me not to worry.

At 30 I began to explore epigenetics and the research suggesting that trauma can be passed down through generations. Epigenetics translates literally to “above genetics”, referring to external modifications to a person’s programming. I say programming because that’s how it makes sense to me. If you’re familiar with binary, how the 1’s and 0’s turn lines of code on or off, outside forces can do this to traits within us, turn them on and off.

If you’ve created a child at any time, the 1’s and 0’s within you get passed down as they exist in that moment. In short: these modifications do not change the DNA sequence, but rather, they affect how cells “read” genes. I think about the shared trauma in the world and how it’s sinister nature infects the future; contaminates quite literally the gene pool. Ignorance is certainly not bliss.

Paige Six | 2021