Another woman's daughter

I fear the days you stand outside my door,
too timid to ring, too determined to leave. Your
presence comes and goes, waning and waxing with the moon's
movements, from new to crescent to full. A tune

composed of someone else's notes, you are
as familiar as my dreams and fears and as far
removed from my life as I could have made you.
Was I wrong to sacrifice you to the hesitant altar

of selfishness, ambition, greed? It is easier to think
of planned vacations and toys than to sink
emotions, time, love—myself—into the bringing of life,
and thus I chose. You, my uncompleted link

between husband and self, future and past,
my choice between motherhood—or writing, at last --
never became more than a half-imagined dream.
In mind, my images of you were always precast

into the shapes of shoes that I never could fill…
throwing down stick and helmet, swearing until
a referee saw the error of his call…
an artist, pulling form from ether, remaining still

and unswerving in the face of criticism… Fainter
images: woman, lover, mother. Of these, the remainder
missing is 'child,' the starting point of living.
I make no apologies. I am not 'mother.' Instead, a painter

of words, images, stories, but not lives. Should she find
me in the hereafter, I will ask her to find
forgiveness for me, making her another woman's daughter,
for I hadn't the courage to birth her as mine.

* * * *

Have you ever been haunted by the thought of a person who was never born? What if the person was never born because you were too afraid to have children of your own, or because you felt that you were incapable of meeting your own standards as a parent?

After talking with Brad last night I was left with the image of a dark-haired girl suited up as a hockey goalie, throwing down her stick and helmet and screaming at a referee because of a bad call. That, my friends, is the kind of child I'd undoubtedly have.

Or, at least, I think I'd have. But we'll never know, and sometimes I wonder what she might have been like.