Saturday, October 4, 2014

My (Imagined) Daughter [poem]

My (Imagined) Daughter

She is prehistoric.  She has gills.
She’s selected her swimsuit for the season –
wavy pattern of blues, purples, greens.
Sophisticated, no cartoon characters.

She slips into the water like a sea turtle.
She doesn’t need my hands under her
anymore to trust-float, my fingers
touching gentle as sea weed. 

She can go under, open her eyes,
bleach-blink and lung-hold
for 60 seconds.  Her hair dries
to chlorine-green, her skin soft

and water-beaded like a swan’s
feathered back.  She breaks
the smooth surface again and again,
her body stretched and muscled

for one dive, roll and hooked for another.
She doesn’t apologize to the water
as she slices – she expects the give,
and the push.  As I would have it,

she cannot fathom panic, or drowning.
She’s never in danger, but if needed
I would crack my own ribs
to re-crank her heart.

As the title tells you, today's poem is another based totally on my imagination. I do not have a daughter, or any human child at all. I've never even been pregnant. I'm not pregnant now.

This poem is one of those marbles I mentioned the other day that've been rolling around in my mind, lopsided, for a while. It was birthed as an idea back in warmer weather, when children were swimming in pools and any other bodies of water they could find.

Today, I conjured that idea up and finally fleshed it out on paper.

Again, as everything seems to, it comes back to me - like yesterday, I'm imagining something I didn't have (safety, security, confidence as a child) from the perspective of someone I'm not (a mother). It's me following a common impulse - to give to our children a better life than that we had. (Even though I am completely barren.)

I wrote this poem on October 4, 2014 as part of Tupelo Press's 30/30 Project.

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