The Best Literary Writing About Mothers and Motherhood
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To My Daughter by Heather Archibald

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You sat on the table at Sears,
your dress of baby pink
frilling around your feet;
your hair with ribbons
decked—a one-year-old
princess with a scowl—and
nothing that we said
or did made you smile.

The finished print revealed
your act of resistance: fingers
pressing firmly, painfully
on the table to keep your
smile at bay. I laughed,
pleased that you were
a girl who won’t be
pressured into smiles.

But the web of rejection grew,
first went dresses, all
the pinks and bows.
No girl tops with straps.
I shopped boys’ racks, and
when the mohawk came,
I slowly embraced it,
but not the red hair.

Your teenage years were calm,
except when tropic storms
clashed with sheets of ice
in our Bronx home. But
we’d laugh again. You’d
speak Kittitian, play
“Redemption Song” on
your guitar. No tattoos!

We stumbled each upon a side
of a chasm. We spoke in
different dialects by then.
Walls towered; you seemed
adrift—caught up
in some fierce current—
away from reach,
floundering, devoid of will.

Now, at twenty-five—a lunge!
Your will awakes.
Braced against the tide,
and still afloat, you reach.
I also reach for you, praying
for a friendly tidal wave
to wash us both upon
a shore of new resolve.

 


Heather Archibald has been writing poetry for many years, and is currently working on a collection of poems which evoke the experience of growing up in her island home, St. Kitts. She has been recently published in The Caribbean Writer (University of the Virgin Islands). Also, the Commonwealth Education Trust in London and Lift Education in New Zealand have recently selected two of her poems to represent St. Kitts and Nevis in the December, 2015 publication of an anthology of poems for the Commonwealth countries.

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