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Daughters and Mothers

Folded with corners 


tucked deep inside 

my purse’s pocket:

a simple card, 

a matryoshka 

on its front,  

notes of a lunch gab 

on the back.

Four women


being extras in 

a film shoot. 

Their talk drifts to 

remembering advice

from their moms. 


Karen at twenty-seven 

anchoring the morning news

on a Columbus TV station

What did you think, Mom?


You should watch Barbara Walters.  

Try to be more like her.


Laura at eighteen

touring Macalester College,

an admissions counselor 

encouraging her to apply.  

Isn’t this exciting, Mom?


You won’t fit in, Laura.

You don’t have the clothes.


Mary at twenty-five 

graduating law school.

I’ve got a job 

with Dorsey & Whitney, Mom!


Gee, that’s too bad.  

You’re taking one from

 a man with a family 

to support.


Tamsin at thirty models 


You know, Mom, people tell me 

what great bone structure I have, 

how attractive I am.


Oh, yes, you were a 

beautiful little girl. 

But we didn’t say anything, 

we didn’t want you to get

a big head. 


Mothers raising daughters

in the ’80s,

Resenting the choices

they never had.

Strong female


Forgetting their daughters

Sprung from them.

Are of them,

Are them.

Giving them a dose of 

Feeling less than

As they did.


Painful words these 


now matriarchs 


easily recall, 

laughing as they lift 

their glasses in a toast

of resilience.


I smile to hide 

my sorrow

And whisper 

I couldn’t stand 

Barbara Walters.

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