Monday, March 07, 2011

For My Daughter in Her Fifteenth Year (posted for International Women's Day)

Rewrite the old stories - why should the mermaid
swap her flash sequinned tail
for boring legs? Build her a swimming pool,
resort style, and all her daughters
(chlorine blue polish on their webbed toes)
can swim laps until their hair turns green
as glass but the boys still buy them sushi
and sit so close dizzy with daring.

Red Riding Hood? Think it over -
let's pity the wolf, colour-blind to the danger,
trapped by her pattycakes and pretty please
cursing old granny wits sharp as scissors
awake in her bed.

Cinderella dropped that shoe - oops
- like a text message
on his mobile - Call Me!
Sleeping Beauty peeked -
and so should you.

In even the best gingerbread houses
a clean kitchen is only ever
a clean kitchen.
Finish the chapter instead.
A dress - black slink or tiers of froth -
is never only a dress but
a brief benediction, a candle you light
against hard times. Oh daughter
love yourself fiercely -
the changing pigments in your eyes
the knobbled spine holding you straight
all the small bones, the lace
of capillaries under your skin each cell
patiently replacing itself
as I do.

As I do.

from: Catherine Bateson, Marriage for Beginners, John Leonard Press, 2009.


Joh said...

Oh how I love this... for all daughters including me.

Helen Lowe said...

A great poem for International Women's Day

Vespersparrow said...

Lovely, Catherine. The old fairy tales rewritten--ah, yes, they must be--and the wish for your daughter to love all of herself--very moving. Thank you.

Janis said...

What a lovely poem.

AJ Ponder said...

Yes, you are so right. Fairy tales are so misunderstood. And so rarely do they come to such agreeable endings.