I always wanted a daughter, which is
to say, I wanted a better self,
flecked from my marrow—made
flesh. I wanted this bone-of-my-bones
to move in the world, exceptional
and unharmed. Not this world. But a world
almost exactly unlike it. Same
paved streets and street cafés, same slow
unfurl of spring. Only in that world,
the green of field and orchard is still wanton
with winged things, their bellies powdered
with the flowers’ gold dust.
“Daughter,” I say, and I mean a list
of what ifs, a cacophony of sorrows.
I imagine her tall, lithe as willows.
When I say Daughter,
I mean a match, ready to strike herself
against the world that isn’t
this one. I mean luck. I mean a river
empty of drowning. I mean an arrow
aimed at an unnamed star. Who said
a daughter is a needle in the heart?
I would take that needle, sew her a dress
of yarrow and blood.
In the world not this one,
I have a daughter. She is a long braid,
a memory of fire. She goes before me,
shining darkly, into a city—
of gold, of salt—that I will never see.