for Diana Wynne Jones, 1934—2011
Is it enough to claim I am your daughter?
I have some twenty books, remembered laughter,
my index-finger callus, ink, and paper.
I have my smirk at others' fear of author/fathers,
all my shame
at putting my words next to yours in the world's eyes.
Not grief enough to break the thought of after—
no personal acquaintance to cause pain—
beyond all hubris. (Hubris lies.)
My inheritance is shadows on the water,
swirls of vapor,
the cast of mind that turns my words to fire.
Is that enough to make me truly yours?
Since you and I have always shared a room.
I share shelf space with my mother.
Isn't that the voice of doom?
Over and over women hear our mothers are
swallowing swelled selves, made into vampire
by that endless need for us to be not-other.
If you'd ever borne my body,
you could never be my mother.
Or is that another lie, from Freud, or Bloom,
incestuous snarls of academic boors?
You'll never see the books I want to write you.
I will still write.
The snaking plot, the masking and unmasking
of my self in print will be, in part, your work,
beloved influence, still with me for the asking,
and also dead.
I hope that is all right.
My grief and love cannot drive me to fight you,
or make you less than mother in my head.
The things I have from you are all I had.
Your words are still the way I know your voice.
The instruments I could consult agree
the day you died
no page of yours was changed.
You're still exactly where you were to me.
Except—the books became estranged
from everything behind them, from the choice
of name and weight-word, villain, worldview, glad
fierce glory of the act of writing
when you died.
No loss is free.
We lost your doors.