My daughter was born on my mother’s Yahrzeit

All morning I thought of my mother,
how often we waited for her to die
and then the affront of it

when she finally did, as if it were
up to her family to tell her
when she could let go,

as if by holding her tired fingers
we could drag her forcibly back
to this life, when only weeks

before she announced
I’m tired; I don’t want
to fight anymore and I began

to tell her then I would have another
child, maybe a girl, with dark curls
and a smart tongue, hoping

to entice her with promises unfair
to make, as if I could really deliver
or even had the right to try.

First published in “Lifecycles,” Vol. 1 (Jewish Lights Publishing, 1994).

Carol V. Davis is the author of “Between Storms” (Truman State University Press, 2012). She won the 2007 T.S. Eliot Prize for “Into the Arms of Pushkin: Poems of St. Petersburg,” 2007.