Poem for a Daughter

'I think I'm going to have it,'
I said, joking between pains.
The midwife rolled competent
sleeves over corpulent milky arms.
'Dear, you never have it,
we deliver it.'
A judgement years proved true.
Certainly I've never had you

as you still have me, Caroline.
Why does a mother need a daughter?
Heart's needle, hostage to fortune,
freedom's end. Yet nothing's more perfect
than that bleating, razor-shaped cry
that delivers a mother to her baby.
The bloodcord snaps that held
their sphere together. The child,
tiny and alone, creates the mother.

A woman's life is her own
until it is taken away
by a first particular cry.
Then she is not alone
but part of the premises
of everything there is:
a time, a tribe, a war.
When we belong to the world
we become what we are.

 


from Poems 1955 - 2005 (Bloodaxe, 2005), copyright © Anne Stevenson 2005, used by permission of the author

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1Poem for a Daughter

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2The Spirit is too Blunt an Instrument

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3The Suburb

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4The Mother

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5The Victory

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6By the Boathouse, Oxford

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7Path

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8Transparencies

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9A Surprise on the First Day of School

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10Innocence and Experience

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11A Marriage

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12Arioso Dolente

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13Sous-entendu

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14Swifts

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15Enough of Green

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16In the Tunnel of Summers

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17North Sea off Carnoustie

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18Still Life in Utah

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19If I Could Paint Essences

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20The Wind, the Sun and the Moon

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21Leaving

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22Why Take Against Mythology (1)

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23Why Take Against Mythology (2)

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24The Writer in the Corner

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25The Fiction-Makers

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26Small Philosophical Poem

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27Willow Song

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28Granny Scarecrow

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29When the camel is dust it goes through the needle's eye

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30Impromptu in C Minor

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31On Going Deaf

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32Talking Sense to my Senses

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33Who's Joking with the Photographer?

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34Terrorist

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35Making Poetry

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