Letter to My Daughter

Mia Ayumi Malhotra

         (St. Helena, Napa Valley)

Because the time will come when the sky turns

         to umber. If we’re lucky, there will be poems

and good wine, and someone, looking on,

         will see us seated two rows from the front,

you in a summer dress, me in my somber poet

         attire, hair gone to silver — or going that way.

They’ll think, there they are, our bodies together making

         something lovely and altogether necessary:

mother, daughter, like nesting dolls — you, resting

         in my lap, the illusion of a self, split

and refracted in time’s mirror, a trick of generations.

Even in July, the hours are too short to contain

         all the day’s longing. If only we could stay

like this, faces lifted toward the valley’s rough horizon,

         burnt by sunset going too quickly to dusk.

If only I could hold you in the shadow of these

         trees, branches bowed in a cathedral hush,

aisles flickering with tea lights, tapers. I already

         see the girl you’re growing to be, which is why

I’ve imagined you thus, light fading in snatches,

         lamp dimmed until it’s just the face,

glowing faintly, closed in evening’s palm.


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