a letter from my father

this one, from Asia, 1963
he writes to her
locations blackened out by censors

but they left
enough of his yearning
to lie next to her

his hand covering
her newly-swollen belly

feeling for that
first small kick

no one else
but my mother
and my unborn brother

ever felt those fluttering movements

and that brother
left both of them
long before naming
or even funerals

but here, I find him,
just a number spoken in a list

spoken quickly
before the magic
of my sister’s birth,
the first success in a series of tries
ending in loss

but here, in this letter
he lives, they all three live

in faded ink hope

About Susan L Daniels

I am a firm believer that politics are personal, that faith is expressed through action, and that life is something that must be loved and lived authentically--or why bother with any of it?
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21 Responses to a letter from my father

  1. Rhonda says:

    Oh God…I knew you were going to make me cry when I read the Title! SFAM, I love that you are now an “indelible” part of my life…your heart is a miracle!

    • Oh, my….thanks so much Rhonda…When I was given a box full of love letters from my dad to my mom 2 years ago, it was a while before I could read them, and this one really stayed with me. Poignant.

  2. coffeehousejunkie says:


  3. nelle says:

    *hugs* Vivid, powerful.

  4. mercurtian says:

    (Nothing intelligent to say, but that has never stopped me in the past) — WOW!

  5. Oh Susan this tugs, goodness it does!
    Thank you for sharing this with us (hugs).

  6. Be strong, Susan. Be strong. All three are now happy that a voice such as yours sings for them with such haunting beauty! Ndo, ezigbo ada anyi!

  7. Jeremy Nathan Marks says:


    • Thanks, Jeremy. I think the seed was planted for this poem when I read that letter, just under 2 years ago.

      • Jeremy Nathan Marks says:

        I remember when my grandfather died that my grandmother tried to get my own father to read the love letters that my grandfather had written. And my father refused. He did not go into details about it at the time but said that it was a side of his own father he never knew and that was never shown to him in any form. He felt he did not have permission to read them, that it was an intrusion.

        Thinking about this now, I think he did not want to enter that space between his parents because it was too private. I remember him being aware that there was a “need” my grandfather had that was evident in those letters (a deep psychological need) that my father felt deeply uncomfortable encountering.

        • Yes, I can certainly understand your father feeling that way. I received those letters after both my parents passed away, and I still felt I was intruding into their relationship space–I was waiting for one of them to yell at me to stop prying. As neither of them were too romantic, most of the letters involved rent, bills, and when he would be home, except for this paragraph that made me catch my breath when I read it.

          • Jeremy Nathan Marks says:

            I think what troubled my father was the vulnerability he saw in those letters. My grandfather had experienced a traumatic childhood -something my dad already knew- but it was seeing it come out this way that got to him. At least, that is what I got from him at the time, though not in quite so many words.

            • Oh, wow. That would be something to see, vulnerability expressed by a man from a generation where men were not supposed to ever, ever show it. I am glad your grandfather was able to share that with your grandmother, and can certainly understand why your father have been uncomfortable reading those–as you said before, a side to his father he never knew. That shows a loving respect.

              • Jeremy Nathan Marks says:

                It was a moment when (and where) I really felt the years and history which separate my dad and I. But in a good way.

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