To My Future Daughter Dissecting Light

Pinning its tissue-thin skin onto the foam board, what did you expect

to find? Little shining lungs? Pulsing blood a kind of happy yellow?

I told you: don't go inside a body unless you want to see what makes it so.

Your hands are in there good, and it's all disappointment, isn't it?

Feel how full it is of regret, with fathers it's tried to fix but fattened instead,

women it's abandoned with no explanation, full of more and more of itself —

all apology and failure. With your palm cupped around its heart, you are

my daughter, Daughter, wishing away the old and muted truth:

that light isn't anything but show. It did gleam honestly on the outskirts

of your mother's life but once, the day I decided you were no mistake,

no matter what, and then it fled. No matter that today's deed has taken

your innocence away for good. That's what innocence is for is what light

would say if it could talk. I'm sorry it would also say. And it will

say that, over and over, as you unpin its skin. And it will keep saying it

through ugly sunsets and injury, through men and bodies that will come to you

only to hurt, through joy's bright planet orbiting your life always

in a wide, wide berth. I'm sorry for using myself up, it will say, on others

who deserve me less, for time's rough strokes, for not being there

to greet you when you arrive on the other side. That's how much it cares.

Daughter, with your hand on its borrowed pulse it will ask of you

what you cannot give. And I ask with it: Pardon me. Forgive me. For everything.

— Laura Didyk

Laura Didyk is a writer, editor, and teacher living in Great Barrington, Mass.