Poems for a Daughter

Poems for a daughter lost, found, and then lost again

To Cynthia

If we’d not had you,
your mother and I,
then you wouldn’t be.
And had you never been,
your daughter wouldn’t be.
The daughter you love so much
that you aim to shield her from me:
the grandfather who ran with whores,
who did drugs, who is unconventional.
Shield her, so she’ll have a ‘normal life.’
As though anything in life is truly normal.
Also, with respect to you and me…well,
without you, we’d not be arguing now
about whether you ought to be.
Would it be better then,
were you not to exist?
Is this what you’re saying?
By insisting that since I knew
what your mother was like,
it was very wrong of us
to have made a child.
I do not think so.
I find the world
a richer place
with you in it.
Would even more,
if only you’d wake up
and be my daughter again.
November 18th 2009


43 And Counting
for Cynthia

Was there any point
in my sending you
a birthday card?
The first time ever
I’ve had a chance to.
Seems there wasn’t,
to your mind anyway
(I worry and wonder
about your heart…),
where my Xmas greeting,
my New Year’s wishes,
were concerned.
Did you chuck both cards
once you had read them?
Same way you trashed
everything beautiful
that blossomed between us
and showed signs of flourishing.
Hard to understand
what you are truly feeling
about this father-daughter thing.
Or how you allowed yourself
to become so misguided
as to who I really am.
I can only reaffirm
my absolute love for you,
unconditional and freely given.
Is that worth something in your eyes?
Eyes that refuse to gaze into mine.
And when in Spring I turn 70,
will I hear from you then?
At least now you know
the precise date.
After wrong-number
texting congratulations
two whole months early.
To which I replied:
“Thank you, but…!”
Scriptokinesis maybe
(my drafting this poem),
or a kind of Freudian slip?
Not to worry, dearest,
I shan’t hold my breath.
Don’t want to end up dying,
giving you a poor excuse
for shedding any tears,
compassionate or crocodile.
What goes round comes round.
But only if you start somewhere.
Seems we started at the finish line.
Making it anyone’s guess, I suppose,
which one disappointed the other more.
Ciao for now, oh phantom daughter,
even while the sun keeps setting
on the bliss we briefly shared.
February 2010


again for Cynthia

Poor little bambi,
lost in the dizzying wilds
of her own confused emotions.
A girl on a wire who cannot decide
whether she loves her father or not.
Or if it was a mistake,
after many long years apart,
for him to have finally found her.
The father who helped deliver his bambi,
and for three months took total care of her,
while her mother lay in bed cutting out paper dolls.
Was her mother quite mad or merely pretending?
Probably the latter, but it hardly matters now.
Bambi was a love child, and both parents adored her.
And then Daddy had to leave, that’s just the way it was.
But he never forgot his bambi, nor did he ever stop loving her.
And was delighted to eventually learn how nicely she’d grown up,
that she’d lived an exciting life even without him there to guide her.
Oh, how happy they both were during the early days of their reunion!
Until bambi had second thoughts, and ended up disowning her daddy.
And, equally stinging, refused to allow him to meet his granddaughter.
Who nonetheless knows (and surely someday will seek to know more!)
that somewhere out there in the big bad world she has yet another opa.
What to do? My hand is outstretched…should bambi ever want to take it.
April 26th 2010


Eddie Woods can be heard reciting these poems here

William Levy (left), with Eddie and his daughter Cynthia, (Amsterdam, June 2009) Photo © by Susan Janssen