Friday, July 15, 2011

Fathers and Daughters

It’s possible, I think,
observing some young women in company,
to see right through to
their relationships with their fathers:
mildly, safely flirtatious,
necks curved swanlike,
heads bent to meet authority,
eyes raised; it almost always works.

Like certain caterpillars,
they carry their homely cocoon
spun of kiss-spittle and spared rods
everywhere: it’s in their tote bags
alongside mother’s jealous food-gifts,
adjacent to their breastbud heartbeats
and rubs against their coyly shaven,
faintly pheremonal armpits.

All courtly love ends up in court of course,
too grand to be human;
the contract broken, lawyers called,
sides taken.
The party of the first part
now sees the paragraph called “father”
nested within yet other nested clauses.

To name some:

men who love another,
to whit, the one both ally and enemy
(she of the jealous food-gift)

men who hurt my mother
(by their love, or lack thereof)

men who have or may hurt me
(see above)

men who lie with me - or not
(aah, that horned beast)

men who lie to me
(and yet…)

The various Sins
of Omission

and nakedly,
these butterfly-girls
come out.
Chew holes in the fragile vellum
digest with acid and bile
the webby cage of youth,

flap off
on wings like canvas
stretched and sized and
painted gaudy colours.

Deep in the household accounts,
Father, with his head for figures,
chews his pencil.
Draws up two columns
in his ledger:
on one side
on the other.
And the entries
double spaced
neatly underlined
in each case read:

those who have or may hurt me

those who betray me

those who leave me

those who will/not sleep with me

those I have held in my arms
those who say they love/d me

profit and loss
all balanced out.

Then calculates the bottom line:

accountants should not associate
too closely with lawyers.

1 comment:

  1. Like the portraits of the daughters and their swanlike necks (I kept wanting to write swanly) and father chewing his pencil like a child.

    The wait for a new BD poem was worth it.