! Daughter

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And some other father at the club
says, has she flown the nest yet?
and it sounds so crude
you don’t want to answer.

You’re sitting on the sofa,
she’s behind you at the table,
she’s silent, you can feel her
growing up inside. You know
you mustn’t turn and look at her –
she’ll hate you for looking her dream
in the face.

Two years ago, she’d have come to sit
beside you on the sofa,
say nothing, put her head
on your shoulder.

Now, she’s in that between place, that place between.
In the between, she lives all the opposites. Simultaneously.
The world’s never been so exciting, all-possible,
or so scary, void; and these together;
she’s never felt so strong, or so vulnerable; both;
she knows she will be somebody; feels like nobody;
she’d like to have every boy, throw them away
to prove her power; yet wait to find if
there’s just the one; she wants both of these
(she, girl to goddess, Princess now a Queen,
she owns all men, yet gives herself to one) .

She’s living simultaneously in dreams
and chill realities.
You know all this,
and cannot, must not interfere.

This morning, you felt like the ideal family,
held in a golden glow of understanding.
Tonight, she’ll dress up for the boy and the dance, gloriously,
and you’ll be torn between fatherly pride
and the feeling that you’ve never, ever known her;
share that terrible place between
where there are only opposites.

Michael Shepherd

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