Sunday, November 20, 2005

My Unborn Daughter's Desire

I have a friend who, when he found out from the ultrasound technician that his wife was carrying a girl, immediately began to worry about boys asking his daughter out to the high school prom. Even now when he talks about it, he runs his hands through his hair and rubs his forehead.

When MaGreen and I found out we are having a girl, I didn’t quite have that reaction. But I am worried. If I try to raise a daughter who doesn’t want a Barbie doll, I know the first birthday gift she’ll ask for will be a Barbie. I don’t want to try to control my daughter’s desire. But I don’t think it’s wise for me to ignore desire either, fooling myself that I don’t play any role. I don’t want to leave the formation of her desires to the shallow and commodified notion of sexuality that permeates our culture.

I have this other friend who tried to convince me that walking around the house naked and taking showers with my daughter is the key to life without shame. I just don’t think it is that simple. Pretending to live without any boundaries could be as bad as erecting big, puritanical walls. Something has to be mysterious and out of bounds. Doesn’t desire begin with transgression? with curiosity? She should feel safe at home, aware of all the violence in the world, and in charge of her body.

Here is a poem I wrote in which I try to imagine what I should do as a father, at least metaphorically…

My Unborn Daughter’s Desire

The top dresser drawer
will be hard for her to reach
and I will stuff it with objects
she should not see.
I will fill the drawer with stones
from the beds of great rivers,
postcards from Khajuraho,
bangles and payal made of 22 karat gold,
verses of Sappho embroidered on satin,
a biography of Phoolan Devi,
and a book on Mayan astronomy


Anonymous said...

This is a beautiful post.

Laura said...

Wow. Lovely poem.