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Looking at Pictures of My Daughters

Maureen Scott Harris
From:   Vintage 95: League of Canadian Poets National Poetry Contest. Quarry Press, 1996.


for Jessica and Katharine

I've taken so many pictures of you from behind,
mesmerized first by the way your hair
spiralled around your perfect baby skulls
mirroring snailshell and galaxy, this
new universe I'd fallen into.
Year after year I looked at you looking away.

But here's a picture I'd forgotten:
foggy weather and you stand, backs to me and larger
than I knew, on an apron of rock at
the sea's edge.
I can't see your expressions, I don't
know how you feel, there, where
the waves are dark and larger than life.
There's nothing between ocean and sky and
my fear falling into the picture

Standing behind you I hold my heart tight, not
letting out the fear:
that you will be swept away,
that you will turn and see me, hand
across my mouth, eyes round and terrified and

I want you to be happy.
Standing behind you I don't have to see myself
reflected in your eyes, the three of us so muddled
in my heart I can't skim us apart.
I want to be perfect, better
than my mother. My gaze is
the weight on your shoulders. It stiffens your necks.



Maureen Scott Harris's works copyright © to the author.


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