They had thought
Of me, this night before the prom.
Had seen my beauteous dress.
She might lose it, it’s your lavalier,
Said her mother, then
What? At least if you would lose it—
Lavalier, why, may I ask you, were you called that,
Lavalier? Lavalier for burning magma, volcano crest?
Pumice grief for my father, the American Lear,
Whose five people generations of wheat were
Kept in moatless white-pillared castles?
His woodland green berets and badges
From world war kept in
Two shiny dark lacquered bowls.
And her mother Decided No, that lavalier necklace,
Of tiniest diamonds and overwrought darling tiny polite antlers
Of silverish gold, should be worn, by a daughter with a father.
Though the word father never appeared—-
The absence of my father was the unspeakable—-
Why her, said the mother.
Why you, my mother says, said the friend.
Lavalier, somehow it
Represents young girl and father.
I do not know how or why,
Something about stag, cliff, moonlight,
Something like that.
Forty years gone by.
And when she came to find me
Forty years out
Her old mother lavalier-guarding was gone, cancer,
Her father as far as I knew indifferent to the lavalier-possible loan
Had died too.
She was decked
Green malachite earrings with one inch drops,
An overly delicate too polite queasy short chain holding
Something possibly more precious above a biker’s tank top,
Her wedding and engagement rings utterly matched,
No Santa Fe crude. Completely proper. Niceties, most from her mother’s
Jewel boxes, I could tell. A bracelet, but not interesting enough to notice.
Too much lockjaw jewelry, darling.
Yes, I saw with satisfaction she had far too much,
With cunning she had engineered what she had thought would be
The continuing guarantee of my comparative worthlessness,
Brought now as residual paybacks from her double-parent care:.
Calculated to a sum of minus
Was my continual non-father
The uninsured dead.
She’d put it all on, come to visit—-
Her father had bought for her the house only Metropolitan Life
Could buy: four stories for himself, his wife, and only daughter.
My father’s fledgling silver mine—
Nothing but debt, become dust for someone else.
Rings and bracelets and diamond lavaliers
Never come from debt, they give debt.
What else do they give?
I ask the stars. Too much
But still she never knew the joy I knew,
The night all of the young went dancing
And some were loved and some were not,
(She was not: her young man obligatory favor.) But I was maybe
More than loved:
The revelation came to me from stars—-
Of being doe
Instead of remaindered sum
Of being cave
Instead of boat—
Hey, beauties, you knew it too.
The feeling of knowing there was no old father
To prove to or please,
His antlers would appear on the cliff,
Or the ridge,
And threaten starry starry fall.