The Friday Poem ‘For My Daughter in Reply to a Question’ by David Ignatow

I was looking for a poem to capture both the sorrow and optimism in the aftermath of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. There’s not a ‘perfect’ poem, but there are these words from poet David Ignatow, published 50 years ago.  Described as ”a poet of the community, of people who work for a living”, the Friday Poem this week is his, “For My Daughter in Reply to a Question’.

“We will not be forgotten and passed over
and buried under the births and deaths to come.”

For My Daughter in Reply to a Question

We’re not going to die,
we’ll find a way.
We’ll breathe deeply
and eat carefully.
We’ll think always on life.
There’ll be no fading for you or for me.
We’ll be the first
and we’ll not laugh at ourselves ever
and your children will be my grandchildren.
Nothing will have changed
except by addition.
There’ll never be another as you
and never another as I.
No one ever will confuse you
nor confuse me with another.
We will not be forgotten and passed over
and buried under the births and deaths to come.

David Ignatow   ‘Rescue the Dead’ 1968 & ‘Against the Evidence: Selected Poems 1934 – 1994’  1994

david ignatow.jpg

Photo credit: Poetry Foundation

One thought on “The Friday Poem ‘For My Daughter in Reply to a Question’ by David Ignatow

  1. Perhaps this one too, for what the kids have started, to turn the tide against guns for all:

    The Low Road

    What can they do
    to you? Whatever they want.
    They can set you up, they can
    bust you, they can break your fingers, they can
    burn your brain with electricity,
    blur you with drugs till you
    can’t walk, can’t remember, they can
    take your child, wall up
    your lover. They can do anything
    you can’t stop them
    from doing. How can you stop
    them? Alone, you can fight,
    you can refuse, you can take what revenge you can
    but they roll over you.

    But two people fighting
    back to back can cut through
    a mob, a snake-dancing file
    can break a cordon, an army
    can meet an army.

    Two people can keep each other
    sane, can give support, conviction.
    love, massage, hope, sex.
    Three people are a delegation,
    a committee, a wedge. With four
    you can play bridge and start
    an organization. With six
    you can rent a whole house,
    eat pie for dinner with no
    seconds, and hold a fund-raising party.
    A dozen make a demonstration
    A hundred fill a hall.
    A thousand have solidarity and your own newsletter;
    ten thousand, power and your own paper;
    a hundred thousand, your own media;
    ten million, your own country.

    It goes on one at a time,
    it starts when you care
    to act, it starts when you do
    it again after they said no,
    it starts when you say We
    and know who you mean, and each
    day you mean one more.

    Marge Piercy

    (From “The Moon Is Always Female”)

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