On Being the Daughter

Kristin LaFollette

I was born losing pint after pint of blood and,
even now,
I can’t quite catch the breath
that’s always been shallow and
weak in my chest—

I am the person in the middle, flanked by
men, and, because of my sex,
I take on the emotional labors
of them all—

If it’s words that are needed, I give them
If it’s history that’s needed, I have it
And,
if it’s space that’s needed,
I’ll be the absent one—you’ll be able to remember me by the bees
                                                                                                                        on my tongue,

                                                      the darkness of my eyes, and
                                                      my thick-with-water

                                                                                             memory—

My hands contain heirlooms
and I cherish them,
name them one-by-one,
hold them close to my body
                                                         for protection—

This is something never
understood, my daughterness,

to be middle and female in a
family of men, a lineage of wolves,
water that rose so slowly no one
even noticed—

If I’m the only one who notices, if I’m the only one who
doesn’t forget, you’ll find me with the trees
                                                      like a pact, like an

                                                                                                            inheritance—

Kristin LaFollette (she/her) is a writer, artist, and photographer and is the author of the chapbook, Body Parts (GFT Press, 2018). She is a professor at the University of Southern Indiana and serves as the Art Editor at Mud Season Review. You can visit her on Twitter at @k_lafollette03 or on her website at kristinlafollette.com

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