Sometimes at dead of night (or in the starkness
of an early, jagged morning) I find myself
saying to my daughter, ‘Come home’.
Although I know she’s settled with an ‘other half’,
and they are the very models of young people in love,
I cannot believe she has forgotten the appeal
of family holidays so soon, or the moments
when, after a long day walking moor or fell,
clambering over castle ruins, they’d been so exciting
she was beset by shrieks of pleasure;
and I wake up thinking that nothing has changed,
nothing has grown up, we all still have our leisure,
and for her, she still has everything to learn
and I have so many things to say worth knowing.
Not at all that she is now impatient
with the things I say, or with my continual trying
to lure her onto family holidays
(Wales? Oh dad, we’re just off to Vietnam!)
au contraire, she is ceaselessly polite – no, much more
than polite, ceaselessly loving – I know, but am struck dumb
by what it is that is never quite enough.
It’s that she will never actually come home.
No other animal seems to want this to happen –
you don’t get elephant, weasel, or the ram
wailing for their demon daughters.
They are contented that their job is done,
that they have perfected the difficult launch,
the seabird flying for the first time from
the impossible precipice; and yet despite all this
I still imagine I will always be saying, in some way,
in some deeply recessed place of my heart,
to my daughter: ‘Come home; don’t go away’.
David Punter was last published in The RavensPerch in November 2019. He has published six poetry pamphlets, as well as poems published in many magazines on both sides of the Atlantic. He is a poet and academic. His last post was as Professor of Poetry at the University of Bristol, UK.