Daughters, 1900

Marilyn Nelson

 
Five daughters, in the slant light on the porch,
are bickering. The eldest has come home
with new truths she can hardly wait to teach.
She lectures them: the younger daughters search
the sky, elbow each others' ribs, and groan.
Five daughters, in the slant light on the porch
and blue-sprigged dresses, like a stand of birch
saplings whose leaves are going yellow-brown
with new truths. They can hardly wait to teach,
themselves, to be called "Ma'am," to march
high-heeled across the hanging bridge to town.
Five daughters. In the slant light on the porch
Pomp lowers his paper for a while, to watch
the beauties he's begotten with his Ann:
these new truths they can hardly wait to teach.
The eldest sniffs, "A lady doesn't scratch."
The third snorts back, "Knock, knock: nobody home."
The fourth concedes, "Well, maybe not in church. . ."
Five daughters in the slant light on the porch.
 
Reprinted with permission of Louisiana State University Press from The Homeplace, by Marilyn Nelson Waniek. Copyright © 1990 by Marilyn Nelson Waniek. All rights reserved.

Poems by This Author

Cachoeira by Marilyn Nelson
We slept, woke, breakfasted, and met the man
Churchgoing by Marilyn Nelson
The Lutherans sit stolidly in rows;
Dusting by Marilyn Nelson
Thank you for these tiny
Little White Church by Marilyn Nelson
Us Free Will Baptists walked a thin tightwire
Mama's Promise by Marilyn Nelson
I have no answer to the blank inequity
Minor Miracle by Marilyn Nelson
Which reminds me of another knock-on-wood
The House on Moscow Street by Marilyn Nelson
It's the ragged source of memory,


Further Reading

Poems About Daughters
A Little Tooth
by Thomas Lux
A Newborn Girl at Passover
by Nan Cohen
A Prayer for my Daughter
by W. B. Yeats
Achill
by Derek Mahon
Daughters in Poetry
by Eavan Boland
For a Daughter Who Leaves
by Janice Mirikitani
Heart's Needle
by W. D. Snodgrass
Home After Three Months Away
by Robert Lowell
Interstate Highway
by James Applewhite
Ladders
by Elizabeth Alexander
Morning Song
by Sylvia Plath
My Daughter All Yourn
by Farid Matuk
My Daughter Among the Names
by Farid Matuk
Poems about Daughters
Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah
by Patricia Smith
The Bistro Styx
by Rita Dove
The Pomegranate
by Eavan Boland
The Writer
by Richard Wilbur
Today A Rainstorm Caught Me
by Matt Hart
Waiting for Rain
by Ellen Bass