letter to my transgender daughter
I made soup tonight, with cabbage, chard
and thyme picked outside our back door.
For this moment the room is warm and light,
and I can presume you safe somewhere.
I know the night lives inside you. I know grave,
sad errors were made, dividing you, and hiding
you from you inside. I know a girl like you
was knifed last week, another set aflame.
I know I lack the words, or all the words I say
are wrong. I know I’ll call, and you won’t answer,
and still I’ll call. I want to tell you
you are loved with all I have, recklessly,
and with abandon, loved the way the cabbage
in my garden near-inverts itself, splayed
to catch each last ray of sun. And how
the feeling furling-in only makes the heart
more dense and green. Tonight it seems like
something one could bear.
Guess what, Dad and I finally figured out Pandora,
and after all those years of silence, our old music
fills the air. It fills the air, and somehow, here,
at this instant and for this instant only
—perhaps three bars—what I recall equals all I feel,
and I remember all the words.
Rebecca Foust’s books include The Unexploded Ordnance Bin and Paradise Drive. Recognitions include the CP Cavafy and James Hearst poetry prizes, the Lascaux Prize in Flash Fiction, and fellowships from Hedgebrook, MacDowell, and Sewanee. Foust was Marin County Poet Laureate in 2017-19. She works as Poetry Editor for Women’s Voices for Change, serves as an assistant Editor for Narrative Magazine, and is co-producer of a new series about poetry for Marin TV, “Rising Voices.”
this is what a poem wants to be