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My Father's Daughter

a poem by Meghan Schrader, Senior English and Communications Major

 

My father and I both forget the TV remotes when packing the TV;

Remembering everything for everyone else,

Knowing the goal but forgetting the roadmap to get there,

Planning things down to the second,

Ready for the downfall,

Until it actually happens.


My father and I both jump to anger

Before considering silence.

We are colliding like storm fronts,

Like ram heads,

Like car crashes,

Like realizations.

This rage is genetic;

A generational curse;

A birthright.

My father and I do not let things go.

We came out of the womb holding grudges and demanding respect.

Quietly tallying up offenses,

Not for a day of reckoning,

But so that next time,

It won’t happen again.


My father and I both hate crowds and stupidity.

We hate anything we cannot predict or plan for.

My teenage years were difficult;

Amusement parks are worse.


My father and I are mostly unaware of our toxic traits,

Tornado-ing through the people in our lives

Without considering the wreckage we might leave behind.

Neither of us has learned yet how to properly apologize.


My father and I were both born fighting;

Seeing the world as our battleground and forgetting the peace,

Entering every room with fists raised and voices soft,

Until they’re not.


My father and I seek to understand things to death,

Researching until we know our enemy inside and out,

Breaking everything down into parts

Until we forget the whole.

Everything is a puzzle that we can eventually solve.


Except he became an engineer

And I was reading psychology textbooks in grade school.

Now I have all my friends broken down to an exact science,

Because if we can understand,

Then we don’t have to be afraid.


My father taught me to protect those you love,

To help those who cannot help themselves.

I have been collecting broken people

The way my mother collects Russian nesting dolls,

Ever since.

Because, like my father,

I am also certain there is nothing I cannot fix.


My father and I do not understand unfixable things;

Not illness,

Not death,

Not people,

Not broken hearts.

We are both so sure we can put the pieces back together

If only we try hard enough.

Life is just another thing that we can conquer,

Can will into submission.

They’re not really dead if we never cry,

Right?


My father taught me that you can build most things yourself,

Including yourself.

He didn’t know that this was a lesson in independence,

That I would be building myself,

On my own,

Ever since.


My father taught me to stand tall and proud,

To wield a sword and shield in case I needed it.

Neither of us have learned yet how to lay our armor down.

Neither of us believes in the weakness that vulnerability requires.


Someone once told me that a Taurus is just a Scorpio in sweatpants.

I am just my father in a more comfortable wrapping,

Just a force of nature in a way that is easier to swallow,

Until it isn’t.


I am all the pieces of him that he would like to forget;

The molten metal of his heart forged into a blade,

Stronger than he could have ever hoped.

Stronger than he ever

Wanted

Me

To have

To be.


I am learning to soften my edges.

I am learning to put my armor down.

I am learning about apologies and vulnerability.

I am learning to see people as people and not as problems that I can solve.

I am learning to consider my words,

To choose understanding before violence.


I am learning to unlearn,

All the things he never meant for me to be,

But in between the cold silences

And the raging storms

And the ram heads

And the TV remotes left on the kitchen counter

And the roller coaster ride lines

And the clashing swords

And the hammers and nails

And the long nights spent learning everything until we are no longer afraid—


We are here.

I am here;

My father’s daughter.



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