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Owens, Elisabeth, R. (ed.) / Encore: more of parallel press poets

Cone, Temple
Now that my daughter lives in the sunlight,   p. 16

Page 16

Now That My Daughter Lives in the Sunlight 
Now that my daughter lives in the sunlight 
the marsh sycamores where our river ends 
shine more darkly through their palomino gray. 
We have walked this hour under canopied shade, 
counting jack-in-the-pulpit and mayapple, 
their blooms rust-red and white as bird-lime. 
I bear her small body, asleep in my arms, 
past man-high cattails freighted with redwings 
that flare off like sparks gashed from old embers. 
At every step, the petals of her eyes 
flicker with the tidal motion of starfish. 
The world I know will harm her, as it does 
all, and I think how she'll never again be 
this safe. When the old heron starts slow 
from the reeds and rows to the farther shore, 
it seems that trespass haunts us daily. 
Kneeling down by the bank, I trail my free hand 
through a shallow pool warmer than dew, 
as if I would christen my daughter 
with the salted marsh water, the same salt 
as my tears, then think better of it, 
and leave her face dry, and her to her dreams. 
Temple Cone 
Poet's Statement 
After my daughter was born last winter, I spent the early months like any
father, hovering protectively over her crib. When spring came, and she was
enough to tour the Chesapeake wetlands near our home, we went looking for
old Chinese hermit-poet of a heron who lives close by. I wanted my daughter
see its haunting beauty, thinking I could bind her close to this natural
world I love. 
But she was asleep when the heron flew off, and it seemed I was being rebuked,
gently, by something much older yet more innocent than myself. One has to
and love the world alone, I could see. That's the wonder of it. The heron
teaching me so. And my daughter, in her delicate, humorous sleep, to which
given over her little body so absolutely, was teaching me, too. 

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