Amusing Our Daughters

By Carolyn Kizer b. 1925 Carolyn Kizer

after Po Chü-i,
for Robert Creeley

We don’t lack people here on the Northern coast,
But they are people one meets, not people one cares for.   
So I bundle my daughters into the car
And with my brother poets, go to visit you, brother.

Here come your guests! A swarm of strangers and children;
But the strangers write verses, the children are daughters like yours.   
We bed down on mattresses, cots, roll up on the floor:
Outside, burly old fruit trees in mist and rain;
In every room, bundles asleep like larvae.

We waken and count our daughters. Otherwise, nothing happens.   
You feed them sweet rolls and melon, drive them all to the zoo;   
Patiently, patiently, ever the father, you answer their questions.   
Later, we eat again, drink, listen to poems.
Nothing occurs, though we are aware you have three daughters   
Who last year had four. But even death becomes part of our ease:   
Poems, parenthood, sorrow, all we have learned
From these of tenderness, holds us together
In the center of life, entertaining daughters
By firelight, with cake and songs.

You, my brother, are a good and violent drinker,   
Good at reciting short-line or long-line poems.   
In time we will lose all our daughters, you and I,
Be temperate, venerable, content to stay in one place,   
Sending our messages over the mountains and waters.

Carolyn Kizer, “Amusing Our Daughters” from Cool, Calm, and Collected: Poems 1960-2000. Copyright © 2001 by Carolyn Kizer. Reprinted with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P. O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA 98368-0271, www.coppercanyonpress.org.

Source: Cool Calm and Collected: Poems 1960-2000 (Copper Canyon Press, 2001)

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Poet Carolyn Kizer b. 1925

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Subjects Family & Ancestors, Home Life, Men & Women, Parenthood, Living, Relationships

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Carolyn  Kizer

Biography

Poet, essayist, and translator Carolyn Kizer was born in 1925 in Spokane, Washington. Raised by a prominent lawyer and highly educated mother, Kizer’s childhood was suffused with poetry. Of her development as a poet, she noted to the Poetry Society of America: “My parents were both romantics: father favored the poems of [John] Keats; mother went for [Walt] Whitman. No evening of my childhood passed without my being read to. But . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Family & Ancestors, Home Life, Men & Women, Parenthood, Living, Relationships

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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