“Single Dads of Daughters” by Russell Rowland

Russell Rowland


If you join our fraternity, in time
you too will have to pick your daughter up
after dance class. You’ll step with diffidence
into so feminine an environment,
filled with leotards, book bags, and moms.
At sight of you, some girl will giggle, “Woops!”
and run from the room, while you find the floor
                    You will not postpone forever
your first trip (not your last) to the drug store
for menstruation-related products—
from which trauma you return to be informed
you must exchange them for the kind with wings.
Back you go swearing, in a cloud of smoke:
Let them fly to us, like homing pigeons,
if they have wings!
                              Can your daughter attend
the all-night cast party at a stranger’s house,
on the other side of town? It is your call,
there’s no spouse to blame the decision on.

Your penance is to give her away to one
who will make familiar-sounding promises—
and keep them better than you did.

from Rattle #41, Fall 2013
Tribute to Single Parent Poets


Russell Rowland: “A middle-aged poet will have gathered a fair amount of moss on the northern side of his consciousness. Divorce, which both giveth and taketh away, made of me a single parent with physical custody, a better man, and a poet with some lonesome valleys to write about. I had to walk them for myself, but now I can write about them for you, and you, and you.”

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