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Lilith Feature

Jewish Daughters and Fathers

It is amazing how often LILITH receives, over the transom, manuscripts by daughters about their fathers. It’s a theme that, if we actually counted such things, probably appears far less than “Bubble and Me” does, but far more than “Mom and Me.” What’s more, most of these father stories speak, sad to say, of a wish: a wish that Dad be more communicative, a wish that Dad had been more supportive and proud, a wish that Dad was more capable of giving us love we could understand.

On the following pages—in three non-fiction stories and four poems—LILITH lays out a small smorgasbord of these wishes. In the non-fiction pieces, three daughters cover the extra miles required in order to try to read some intimacy into their relationships with their fathers. Gail Todd audiotapes her Dad in an effort to know something about him; Sarah Cooper reluctantly prays for her father and thereby begins to grieve and accept the louse that he is; Faye Kellerstein embraces professionally with generous open arms what her father once half-held out to her.

The poems, as only poems can be, are more bloody. They speak explicitly of severed “daddy connection” [“Prayer Making”], and of the rage passed in veins from one’s father to one’s son [“Lot’s Daughters Reveal”]. In “Empty Lots” there is an even more sanguinary connection between daughter and father: the inevitable destiny of becoming—-just like Dad . . . But in the end, there’s a sweet chance that a father will mellow into a grandpa [“Grandfather’s Voice”]. And sometimes then he finds the key to his heart: hidden in the heart of his daughter.

 

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