Poem of the Week | May 17, 2021

This week’s Poem of the Week is “Dear Daughter” by Michael Meyerhofer!

Michael Meyerhofer’s fifth poetry book, Ragged Eden, was published by Glass Lyre Press. He has been the recipient of the James Wright Poetry Award, the Liam Rector First Book Award, the Brick Road Poetry Book Prize, and other honors. His work has appeared in many journals including Hayden’s Ferry, Rattle, Brevity, Tupelo Quarterly, and Ploughshares. He is also the author of a fantasy series and the Poetry Editor of Atticus Review. For more information and an embarrassing childhood photo, visit www.troublewithhammers.com.


Dear Daughter

I know you don’t exist
but say we were halfway back
from seeing a friend
in a bullet-smooth casket
and you asked what to expect
if there really is no God,
no passing like water
mouth to mouth,
and I told you in the car
between one tree-named sign
and the next the worst
case scenario: when we die,
we pass into nothingness,
that same shapeless garden
from whence you came,
like the darkness in a vase
we filled with milk and light.
Or, put another way,
I’m not afraid of being eaten
by whatever gave us you.


Author’s Note

Last year, reeling from the loss of someone I cherished beyond words, I decided to approach the subject of death in a slightly different manner. Instead of imagining what happens when we die, I tried to imagine that equally bizarre moment when, in just one Planck Length of time, our consciousness somehow poofed into existence. Sure, we’re scaffolds of genes and matter, but if you really try to conceptualize that single, indivisible fraction of a second in which the lightbulb switched on, you realize there’s a sense in which nonexistence, aka oblivion, is actually the most creative force there is. From there, I imagined being sustained and comforted by my love for a child I don’t even have, since there’s also a sense in which whatever we imagine comes out of that same generous nothingness. Put another way, maybe the point of remembering we’re dust is to realize that we live in a universe where dust can be anything.