The Daughter

by Jody Rambo

I suppose it’s always like that with a daughter.
Everyone wanting her raw embrace as if it were a small landscape of belonging.

Yet, to love her this way is to love the blue of distances. As one comes to love
one’s own long shadow, or a bluebell, a single breath, a mirage of longing

put to sea. Quiet daughters come home, hover in doorways, draping their languid
limbs like garments across surfaces. Leaving behind the smell of a world tangled

in bedsheets you strip like a second skin. Their brief presences carry the heartbreak
of a small here and gone. Let her rest, let her eat, you remind yourself while she’s home.

Soon you must send her back deep into the light of her own being. Her voice
tucked in your sleeve for the long haul. I have reason to imagine one day we might

recognize each other and embrace, speak in the new way with words we once buried
together in a riverbed of her childhood. I know that even when she seems not to be

looking at me, she is, as if falling all around her are the soft houses of her heart
unfilling and filling back up toward a kind of song. While all autumn gathers

inside me, assembling like a row of girls, arms entwined, daughters and once-daughters,
remade continually, freed like caged birds to wind, each one named as they fly.

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