by Liane Kupferberg Carter

“You have no idea how wonderful it is to have daughters,”
My friend says.
Smug. Salt in the wound.
Six months pregnant, I weep the whole way home.
A woman wants a daughter.
Someone to let you read aloud The Secret Garden.
The longing is palpable:
you can picture them placing the infant girl in your arms,
and you are as grateful
as if your own mother had been given back to you.
In the body politic of boys, there is no one to take your
last pair of pantyhose;
no one to use your makeup;
no one to borrow your best silk blouse without asking.
A bridesmaid, not a bride;
you must tend other women’s daughters.
Sometimes you can laugh. You say,
I want a daughter so someone
will take care of me in my old age.
In darker moments, you wonder:
am I getting the best of my boys now?
You think that in years to come
your daughtered friends will not be lonely.
So you nurture your secret:
the sassy, dark-haired, sensitive, might-have-been daughter for whom you
will never buy a prom dress;
to whom you will never give a copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves as you send
her off to college.
Instead, you stand knee-deep in real life,
raising your boys and knowing with absolute certainty
you would lay down your life for them.
But still.
A woman wants a daughter.
Push the hair out of your eyes, my darling,
you would say, so I can see your pretty face.

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