Guest poem sent in by Ameya Nagarajan
(Poem #1270) To A Sad Daughter
All night long the hockey pictures gaze down at you sleeping in your tracksuit. Belligerent goalies are your ideal. Threats of being traded cuts and wounds --all this pleases you. O my god! you say at breakfast reading the sports page over the Alpen as another player breaks his ankle or assaults the coach. When I thought of daughters I wasn't expecting this but I like this more. I like all your faults even your purple moods when you retreat from everyone to sit in bed under a quilt. And when I say 'like' I mean of course 'love' but that embarrasses you. You who feel superior to black and white movies (coaxed for hours to see Casablanca) though you were moved by Creature from the Black Lagoon. One day I'll come swimming beside your ship or someone will and if you hear the siren listen to it. For if you close your ears only nothing happens. You will never change. I don't care if you risk your life to angry goalies creatures with webbed feet. You can enter their caves and castles their glass laboratories. Just don't be fooled by anyone but yourself. This is the first lecture I've given you. You're 'sweet sixteen' you said. I'd rather be your closest friend than your father. I'm not good at advice you know that, but ride the ceremonies until they grow dark. Sometimes you are so busy discovering your friends I ache with loss --but that is greed. And sometimes I've gone into my purple world and lost you. One afternoon I stepped into your room. You were sitting at the desk where I now write this. Forsythia outside the window and sun spilled over you like a thick yellow miracle as if another planet was coaxing you out of the house --all those possible worlds!-- and you, meanwhile, busy with mathematics. I cannot look at forsythia now without loss, or joy for you. You step delicately into the wild world and your real prize will be the frantic search. Want everything. If you break break going out not in. How you live your life I don't care but I'll sell my arms for you, hold your secrets forever. If I speak of death which you fear now, greatly, it is without answers. except that each one we know is in our blood. Don't recall graves. Memory is permanent. Remember the afternoon's yellow suburban annunciation. Your goalie in his frightening mask dreams perhaps of gentleness.
Found this poem in a friend's house and thought it was a beautiful expression of the relationship between a father and his daughter. Biography: Michael Ondaatje was born on September 12, 1943 in Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). The son of Mervyn Ondaatje and Doris Gratiaen, prominent members among the inhabitants of what once comprised Ceylon's colonial society. Mervyn Ondaatje was a tea and rubber-plantation superintendent who was afflicted with alcoholism. Doris Gratiaen performed part-time as a radical dancer, inspired by Isadora Duncan. As a result of his father's alcoholism, OndaatjeÕs parents eventually separated in 1954 and he moved to England with his mother. Ondaatje was educated initially at St. Thomas College in Colombo, Ceylon. After moving with his mother to England, he continued his education at Dulwich College in London. Between 1962-64, Ondaatje attended Bishop's University in Lennoxville, Quebec. He then went on to obtain his B.A. at the University of Toronto in 1965, and his M.A. at Queen's University, in Kingston, Ontario, in 1967. Ondaatje began his teaching career at the University of Western Ontario, London between 1967-71. Today he is a member of the Department of English at Glendon College, York University in Toronto, Ontario, a position he has held since 1971. Ondaatje currently resides in Toronto with his wife, novelist/editor Linda Spalding, where they edit Literary Magazine. During his career Ondaatje has received numerous awards and honors. He was awarded the Ralph Gustafson Award, 1965; the Epstein Award, 1966; and the President's Medal from the University of Ontario in 1967. In addition, Ondaatje was the recipient of the Canadian Governor-General's Award for Literature in 1971 and again in 1980. Also in 1980 he was awarded the Canada-Australia price and in 1992 he was presented with the Booker McConnell Prize for his novel The English Patient. a good web resource is www.postcolonialweb.org Ameya