In Their Own Words

Tomás Q. Morín on “For My Daughter”

Tomas Q Morin author photo

For My Daughter

Even after I add up all your birthdays
I've celebrated but that haven't come
to pass since that day long ago when we agreed
it would be better if you never drew that
first breath of air, you're still only zero,
as all the unborn are, though you never look
like a zero, which resembles the eye of a needle
or even less than that, the head of a needle
maybe, though that also seems too large,
which doesn't matter because I always see you small
and running (at what age does that happen?)
across a porch toward my arms
that for once aren't filled with books or groceries
or even the arms of a lover and as you
draw closer I see your brow is sweaty
because you've been pretending you're a cowboy again
as you like to do, and that I'm a buffalo
stabbed and shot so many times it doesn't know
it's already dead and so it keeps on
limping around while you chase away
the buzzards it thinks are pretty
and so round and round our little game goes
until you get tired of playing the hero, throw
away your star, and face my shaggy frown
just before you smile and jump
back home in between my horns.

From Patient Zero (Copper Canyon Press, 2017). All rights reserved. Reprinted with the permission of the author.

On "For My Daughter" 

How do we define existence? When does it begin and when does it end? Humans have wrestled with these questions for millennia. When it came to the memory of the daughter I never had, these questions felt irrelevant. I didn't want to debate her existence in the poem I was writing because when I hear her laughing in the land of my imagination, I know she's real. And because she lives where she does, she will always be the same, unlike me, who is now different in so many ways from the young man I was when she was accidentally conceived. This poem was my chance to let her escape my imagination by jumping on a page and flying into the world. I guess it's true that you have to let your children go, even the ones that were never born.

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