Early in life I began spying on you, father,
tailing you detective like in search of clues
to tie you to the scene of the crime, your crime of maleness,
stumbling over our differences of gender:
the weight and breadth of you, the span of your shoulders
and your talent for filling a home with artistic riot.
(You should have been my mother, the canvas of my body slipping through yours with aesthetic ease, born of man to please, to please.)
I stalked your deft shadow, never guessing
that your colorful abundance was not meant for me,
(daughters can become only their mothers.)
Had you warned there was no need to follow,
that my smothered fate lay hermetically sealed
in dull Tupperware canisters, which mother took care to burp
as once she’d burped me, surely I would have curtailed my rebellions,
stopped standing pigeon-toed before the hum left your inflated cheeks
and mother twisted her last strand of auburn hair into a pin curl neat.
As the only daughter of an artist I (erroneously) believed that only males had the option of being creative. My father’s artistry awed me, stirring within unspoken desires for my own version of the creative life.