Monday, November 17, 2014

'Dear, you never have it'

Poem for a Daughter
by Anne Stevenson 

'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 the 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 a 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.


  1. This is beautiful. My mum quoted lines from this poem in a letter she put into a box with a shawl she made on my wedding day. She came in first thing in the morning of the wedding day with a two cups of tea, the box containing the shawl and the letter containing the lines.

  2. Ah yes. The baby makes us a mother. I so felt that. Makes us so many things. Alone is not one of them:).

  3. Oh, man. I love that. Sometimes I can't believe I have a daughter, and it's been almost a year of knowing her.

  4. wow, i needed this today.


play nice.