In the Absence of a Daughter by Tara Roeder

by Leslie Anne Mcilroy

Last night I watched a commercial about life insurance                                         
and remembered how the girls I grew up with                           
would crouch behind garbage cans on warm summer nights                                         
to elude the neighborhood pervert.

Women with daughters glow or burn, create invisible circles, cast protective spells.

In the absence of a daughter I become the unrepentant bearer of unpopular news —       
mass extinctions; male brutality; wanton squander.

According to the petitions in my Inbox today,                                      
forty percent of murdered women are killed by their partners,                           
and the number of citizens incarcerated in private prisons has doubled in a decade.
Circuses need to be closed, their inhabitants re-homed.
My poems fall flat.                                                      
I try to envision a bedtime story that’s not an apology.  

Photo of Tara Roeder

Photo of Tara Roeder

Tara Roeder is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Maritime (Bitterzoet Press) and all the things you're not (dancing girl press), and co-editor of the collection Critical Expressivism: Theory and Practice in the College Composition Classroom (Parlor Press). Her work has appeared in multiple venues including The Bombay Gin, Two Serious Ladies, and THRUSH. She received her Ph.D. from the CUNY Graduate Center, and is an Associate Professor of Writing Studies in New York City.