Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
To the Father My Daughters Do Not Have,

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and to the phone that is not ringing: One has taken to making mountains;
Another to drawing flame. These are the pictures they hide away, the claims:
they do not know you.

The world may call it puberty, but I swear those girls are growing wings. This
morning, upon hearing an aria with a lovely name, I thought of them.

Repeatedly mixing every color will create a hue of blackish-blue or bone-deep
bruise, the shade of a butterfly when she crashes against the glass or drowns
in a puddle of oil.

You would be fooled by their masks; you, who have not held the battered weight
of One or Another, have never watched your kisses fail. You, who have not
washed those tissue wings, crying, crying as the fragile fabric clings to your
fingers, becomes torn away in places.

Aria: n. 1. A solo vocal piece with instrumental accompaniment, as in an opera.
2. An air; a melody.

In spite of all insistences, you are etched to the memory of One who piles
rocks, layer upon layer, who stands at the top, her hands held up like a little
child, still so far from the sky.

And you are burned to the memory of Another, who burns and turns in search of a
savior, anyone who can find her through the smoke and, upon his sturdy
shoulders, can carry her.

You would be fooled by their masks; you, who have not seen their wary faces
when the whole world turns to shadow, have never taken the trembling hands of
One and Another and walked with them to the edge of the earth.

You, who have not tested the wind or readied their wings, whispering: This is
your chance, baby girl. Fly, fly... always hoping someday they will.


Susan Culver is the mother of three daughters and the editor of Lily. Her first full-length poetry collection, All the Ways We Could Have Met, is available via online bookstores.


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