To My Daughter

To My Daughter
Raymond Carver

It’s too late now to put a curse on you – wish you plain, say, as Yeats did his daughter. And when we met her in Silgo, selling her paintings, it’d worked – she was the plainest, oldest woman in Ireland. But she was safe.

For the longest time, his reasoning escaped me. Anyway, it’s too late for you, as I said. You’ve grownup now, and lovely.

You’re a beautiful drunk, daughter. But you’re a drunk. I can’t say you’re breaking my heart. I don’t have a heart when it comes to this booze thing. Sad, yes, Christ alone knows.

Your old man, the one they call Shiloh, is back in town, and the drink has started to flow again. 

You’ve been drunk for three days, you tell me, when you know goddamn well drinking is like poison to our family. Didn’t your mother and I set you example enough? Two people who loved each other knocking each other around, knocking back the love we felt, glass by empty glass,
curses and blows and betrayals?

You must be crazy! Wasn’t all that enough for you? You want to die? Maybe that’s it. Maybe I think I know you, and I don’t. I’m not kidding, Kiddo. Who are you kidding?

Daughter, you can’t drink. The last few times I saw you, you were out of it. A cast on your collarbone, or else a splint on your finger, dark glasses to hide your beautiful bruised eyes. A lip that a man should kiss instead of split. Oh, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus Christ!

You’ve got to take hold now. Do you hear me? Wake up! You’ve got to knock it off and get straight. Clean up your act. I’m asking you. Okay, telling you. Sure, our family was made to squander, not collect. But turn this around now. You simply must – that’s all!

Daughter, you can’t drink.  It will kill you. Like it did your mother, and me. Like it did.