Books

Who am I? ‘My Father’s Daughter,’ and other poems exploring identity

Miami Herald

April is National Poetry Month. We’ve invited readers from across the Central Coast to share their best original poems dealing with self-identity and diversity.

Here is a sampling of the poems. We will be posting new poems at sanluisobispo.com/entertainment/books throughout the month.

[»» Start at the beginning]

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Poems

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“My Father’s Daughter”

By Mary Silberstein, Arroyo Grande

I am my fathers’ daughter, and I am not.

I adored his face

His meaning, his values

His brave resolve in the face of certain defeat

But I am me

I am a woman, not a man

I live in different times than he, times that call for a deep sense of self.

I hold a power, perhaps a form of the same power that he held

A power I never recognized while he lived

A power that calls for extreme resilience

The same power that flows within the DNA of all the generations

Of survivors of humans on this planet

Stung by death

Reeling from loss

Loss of heart, of purpose

We are asked to go on

Life all around us asks us to act and feel

And love and live and forget

As if we might live forever

Forgetting that storms will come again

... Once more bringing us to our knees

Asking us once more to rise up with the

Morning light

And begin again ...

As he did ... and I will.

~ ~ ~

“Inherited Rejection”

By Breanna Rosas, Paso Robles

Passed on through the blood of my Mother

From her Mother’s tongue and touch

To mine

Rejection of being – praised for our beauty

But never truly believing we were anything more

Or anything of worth

Felt through the mirror into our blue eyes, we shallowly wept

Tears fill up the glass of fleeting happiness, bottles emptied

My child heart cried for something more

My child heart cried for warmth

Our looks will bring us the love

We desperately searched for truth through our bodies, make-up and clothes

Through men that could never see past our breast and hips

-– Great Grandma, Oma, Mom –it was never your fault

The blood drawn, the sewn shut heart is what has been

The scars will fade as I integrate of what will be forgiven

I’ll take the dive and swim deep in the waters –

Deep in my heart where there was always that warmth,

where there was always that love

I’ll drink from my own cup and my daughter and finally, our family will begin to know the same.

~ ~ ~

“A Missing Father”

By Rebecca Collie, Atascadero

Others filled your void Dad

Teaching me the ways of the world

As I roamed the streets alone

My innocence turned into street smarts

learning how to chug a pint

blow smoke rings and feel sick from a high

Losing sight of who I could have been

And who I should have been

Many twists and turns have come my way

Since those barren years

Time spent paying for my mistakes

And time to think how I got there

You’re not to blame for my defeat

It’s my own doing for sure

Lessons learned, lessons lived

My life is mine to fix

Without your influence, good or bad,

To throw into the mix

~ ~ ~

“Recipe”

By Myra Lathrop, Paso Robles

3 cups of parents who fought for social justice

2 cups of loving grandparents, immigrants from oppression

1  1/2 cups of friendships, old and new

1 cup of growing up in the mind-expanding sixties

1 cup of multiple marriages, the third one a charm

 3/4 cup of music, dance, books, and art

 1/2 cup of education, formal and informal

 1/2 cup of travel and explorations of other cultures and eras

 1/4 cup of DNA: 89% Eastern European Jewish

4% Western Asia

2% Iberian Peninsula

2% Italian/Greek

3% Other

Blend thoroughly with choices made,

paths shunned, and roads embraced.

Top with a generous number of lessons both learned and not.

Allow ingredients to meld together for seven decades.

~ ~ ~

“Born Mixed”

By Laurina Kusell, Arroyo Grande

I’ve never understood why it matters why

what color you are

or where your great-grandmother

or mother

or father

or you

originated

Being born part Hispanic, part Jewish, part Scottish, part English

in that order of parts,

it doesn’t make sense

why wars are fought

some thought less of

because they are whole or part

of a place, ethnicity, creed

that doesn’t match with someone else

Born mixed

makes unacceptable thoughts and worse actions

that discriminate, judge, punish

seem naïve, cruel, ignorant

Born mixed makes you open

to the fact

we are the same

all of us

born human

~ ~ ~

»» There’s more: Click here to read the next set of poems

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San Luis Obispo County poet laureate Jeanie Greensfelder reads her poem "At Sweet Springs Preserve," at the location of the same name, in March 2017.

»» More poems: In troubled times, SLO County poets seek to comfort and inspire

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