Putin’s Daughter
by Candace Armstrong

My mama says be grateful for our wealth
and treat your father always with respect
but sister says she worries for his health.
Revenge and death is all he can expect.
Some tutors tell me not to speak my name
unless I’m in the presence of himself.
It’s rare, so I am free to play the game
to keep pretending Papa’s someone else.

Perhaps his madness stems from not enough
of freedom from his tortured early time
or indecision he could not rebuff
so filled the void with vodka, drugs and wine.

Imprisoned by and for my given name
is not the way I wanted to have fame.


Some people touch our lives with short times spent
while others ride the long thread of our lives.
Our bloodlines can be something we resent
or celebrate, yet heritage survives.
But I remember my small hand in his
when then his smile was warm, his eyes sincere.
These days I hardly recognize him. This
façade of power camouflages fear.

But not for me. He thinks I’m safe and free,
incarcerates me like his enemies.
His solid grip upon the golden key
imprisons him almost as much as me.

This name has choked my hope of sweet romance.
Could I destroy him if I had the chance?


So, no, I love him still in spite of all
my angst, embarrassment, worry and fear.
The question’s what Mama will choose to call
herself when fortunes fall, defeat is near.
Of late she struggles to be brave and strong,
but I can see deep lines upon her face.
The time she spends in prayer grows ever long.
She never chose this hatred and disgrace.

I tuck away my want for tenderness.
My parents both would tell me to be brave.
Perhaps I can escape my fearfulness
and flee somehow, avoid an early grave.

But who will take me with my name defiled?
I wonder who will comfort Putin’s child.


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