Linda Pastan

The Daughter and 6AM
June 24, 2022 Pastan Linda

The Daughter


I wish I had another chance
with my father, had played
a different role
in the drama of my childhood.


Questions unanswered haunt,
but questions never asked fester.
His city unreels in grainy black and white:
clop of a milkman’s horse,


that tenement reek, hunger.
What was it like for him, a child, swimming
in a strange new language, trying not to drown?
Did that produce his silences,


his angers? But what produced my tears
behind closed doors, my rudeness,
my refusals?  I lived a simpler life,
though life to me seemed dull, not simple.


Old sorrows play out
in waking or sleeping dreams.
Hamlet had his ghost.  I only have
a silent grave, too far away to visit.




The moon is still there–
flat, round disk
in the pale sky,
mere ghost of itself


as workmen climb
out of the dark
subway, step
by step, blind


to the ghosts
of workmen past
in their blue coveralls,
their cloth caps.  Now


the sun climbs
into its own tasks
of light,
though the moon


is still there, no brighter
than a shadow.
Like my own ghosts
who shine


in my dreams all night
and stay with me
all day, even
in their absence.

Linda Pastan was Poet Laureate of Maryland from 1991-1995.  In 2003 she won the Ruth Lilly Prize for lifetime achievement. Her book, Insomnia,  came out in 2015 and A Dog Runs Through It in 2018. Almost An Elegy: New and Later Selected Poems, will be published in 2022.