Before I ever dreamed
of not pleasing my father
(and this was before his hair turned
gray, although he tells it otherwise)
I filled hours imagining
the ways I was better, superior
to my sisters, mother, all others
who could not dream the way I dreamed
of being Daddy’s favorite

–the golden child
The Unmarred,
The Worthy.

I am none of those
kinds of child
I am no longer child,
golden, unmarred or otherwise.
I have, with great reluctance, accepted
my position of adult, mother,

My dreams now revolve around my children
giving to them better than what I was handed,
and, yes, I still dream of pleasing

I am told of a goddess.
I see her in a long, white dress.
The sun has gently toasted her skin.
She glows golden.
She is perfection.

She is me.

If I accept her, I cannot please
my father
He has taught me caution because women,
-especially strong and beautiful women-
cannot be trusted;
They embody evil, lust, temptation.
They reveal shoulders and knees and bosoms.
They are appealing to men.
If I accept her, I reject him.

I disagree.
I love my father.
I see the vice of unspoken history
binding him
He is Trauma’s whipping boy
by choice, by choice
And I could choose the same
but for me and mine and my goddess
I check another box.

When I pass this sadness of loss–
because my father will surely withdraw–
I will find a happiness larger than any expanse
of green grass and hollyhocks and the shimmering
water of an ocean, the whispering
leaves of a thousand trees I will embrace
my inner self and rise to the heaven
I was taught would be denied me
on the basis of “she” meaning “devil”.
Even he knows he was so wrong.


Shawna Ayoub

Shawna Ayoub is an essayist, fiction writer, poet and instructor with an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University. Some of her work has been published in The Manifest-Station, Role Reboot, [wherever], The Huffington Post, The Oxford Review and Exit 7. Her writing explores the intersections of race, place and survivorship. She writes with honesty about her own experience in order to transform pain.

0 Discussion to this post

  1. fyrdraca says:

    Beautiful-someday, when they are ready, I will allow my own lovelies to read this, and hopefully it will give them solace.

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