Cocooned in a hospital room,
safe from the white winter outdoors,
Daddy holds Baby Girl.
Before she discovers Keats, Shelley, Yeats,
before she crosses out Daddy’s birthday
and Father’s Day,
before she stops telling him,
Good night, Daddy,
before she becomes Mad Girl,
Baby Girl’s green eyes seek his eyes,
her baby fingers skim his cheeks, his hair, his nose.
At four, Baby Girl feeds ducks bread crumbs.
She’s in love with helpless creatures.
At fifteen, locked in her room,
Mad Girl reads Plath,
where she extracts small consolations,
writes notes in smaller handwriting.
At twenty, Mad Girl dreams
she tells Daddy, You’re dead to me.
If he’d drowned in Cabo,
among palm trees and broken glass
in the muddied Pacific,
Mad Girl would’ve drowned with him.
On Baby Girl’s first day,
Daddy must’ve known he cradled
a ticking bomb.
He must’ve thought,
Here is your daughter.
Either light the fuse
or snuff out the flame.