To My Future Daughter Dissecting Light
Pinning its tissue-thin skin onto the foam board, what did you expect
to find? Little shining lungs? Pulsing blood a kind of happy yellow?
I told you: don’t go inside a body unless you want to see what makes it so.
Your hands are in there good, and it’s all disappointment, isn’t it?
Feel how full it is of regret, with fathers it’s tried to fix but fattened instead,
women it’s abandoned with no explanation, full of more and more of itself —
all apology and failure. With your palm cupped around its heart, you are
my daughter, Daughter, wishing away the old and muted truth:
that light isn’t anything but show. It did gleam honestly on the outskirts
of your mother’s life but once, the day I decided you were no mistake,
no matter what, and then it fled. No matter that today’s deed has taken
your innocence away for good. That’s what innocence is for is what light
would say if it could talk. I’m sorry it would also say. And it will
say that, over and over, as you unpin its skin. And it will keep saying it
through ugly sunsets and injury, through men and bodies that will come to you
only to hurt, through joy’s bright planet orbiting your life always
in a wide, wide berth. I’m sorry for using myself up, it will say, on others
who deserve me less, for time’s rough strokes, for not being there
to greet you when you arrive on the other side. That’s how much it cares.
Daughter, with your hand on its borrowed pulse it will ask of you
what you cannot give. And I ask with it: Pardon me. Forgive me. For everything.
— Laura Didyk
Laura Didyk is a writer, editor, and teacher living in Great Barrington, Mass.