poem: where you came from (poem for my daughter)

where you came from
(poem for my daughter)

the words came home today
unexpected, though i knew
they were inevitable

they didn’t knock at the door
they stumbled in
awkward and young

“I want to know about my dad,”
you said , six years old
unable to know what you are really asking

i tell you…
the thin but short legs
the round little butt
the Buddha belly
they are his

the rosebud lips
the soft brown hair
the swirl of ear
they are mine

the golden skin
the gray-blue eyes
the spirals of curls
they are yours


i tell you…
the remarkable temper
the bug-eyed glare
the exaggerated sins against you
they are his

the need to please
the easy tears
the ability to lie with a smile
they are mine

the screechy whine
the hypochondria
the desire to be center stage
they are yours


i tell you…
the charm
the leadership
the ability to inspire
they are his

the intelligence
the fierce independence
the obsession to learn and create
they are mine

the natural comedy
the gymnast tendencies
the touch that can heal
they are yours


i do not tell you…
the prison walls
the ability to rape
and to murder
they are his
and he will not give them to you

the invisible scar
the gun against forehead
on the night you were made
they are mine
and i will not give them to you

the innocent smile
the easy laughter
the life free of violence
they are yours
and we will not take them from you

April Cheri 1998

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