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For Fathers of Girls by Stephen Dunn

I subscribe to a website called “The Writer’s Almanac,” and they send me an email daily with a new poem.  This is the one I received today, and I must say, I do like it very much.  I love it when poets tell a story without actually spelling it out for you.  I like to read something, then sit back and say “huh?”  Lately, they’ve been putting out sub-par poetry, but this one was well written, in my opinion.  I hope you all enjoy 🙂


For Fathers of Girls

by Stephen Dunn

          for Susanne

When sperm leaves us
and we cockadoodledo
and our wives rise like morning

the children we start
are insignificant as bullets
that get lodged, say,

in a field somewhere
in the midwest.
If we are thinking then

it is probably of sleep
or the potency of rest, or
the one—hand catch we made

long ago at the peak of our lives.
Later, though, in a dream
we may imagine something in the womb

of our heads, neither boy nor girl,
nothing quite so simple.
But when we wake, our wives are

breathing like the wounded
on the whitest street in the world.
We are there

we are wearing conspicuous masks
for the first time,
our eyes show the sweat

from our palms.
Suddenly we are fathers
of girls: purply, covered with slime

we could kiss. There’s a cry,
and the burden of living up
to ourselves is upon us again.

“For Fathers of Girls” by Stephen Dunn, from New and Selected Poems. © Norton, 1994. Reprinted with permission


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