My Daughter Waits For Her Father
by Danielle Sellers
Key West, Winter 2014
She tries to draw her father,
a generic round face atop a stick body.
She does not remember how
his stubble once tickled her cheek,
or being lifted into the air
as if she were no trouble at all.
With small, dimpled hands, she has combed
the hair she just learned to rinse
with strawberry shampoo. Now
under a ficus canopy, she sits
on the steps of my mother’s porch,
dappled by morning light
through the Christmas palms,
sure he will come this time.
Somewhere a dove perch-coos.
A prop plane loops over us,
looking for yesterday’s missing boater
among the salt ponds’ snarled mangrove roots.
The day grows hot. She wilts
but will not leave the porch.
I stay with her. Some part of me
hopes he will never show.
I am not ready to relinquish all
I’ve been holding with swollen fingers.
The white sky is suffocating.
A brown lizard rests on the porch railing.
They have a staring contest until a coconut falls
and spooks him. Perhaps he will come back,
she says, if she builds him a house.
We gather shucked palms and coins of coral.
By afternoon’s end it is three-storied
with snail-shell windows and a moat.
The lizard never returns,
but we’ve seen three monarchs
and a praying mantis. When we begin
to slap mosquitoes from our ankles,
I tell her it’s time to go in. There’s cake for dinner.
On her face I see the look of someone told
it’s time to give up the search for something lost.
She leaves the work of waiting
and turns to lesser things.
Danielle Sellers is from Key West, Florida. She has an MA from The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University and an MFA from the University of Mississippi, where she held the John Grisham Poetry Fellowship. Her poems have appeared in River Styx, Subtropics, Smartish Pace, The Cimarron Review, Poet Lore and elsewhere. Her first book, Bone Key Elegies, was published by Main Street Rag. She teaches iterature and creative writing at Trinity Valley School in Fort Worth, Texas. Read her previously published poem in Deep South here.