Daughters & Granddaughters

posted in: Memoir, Poetry, Uncategorized | 0
Donald Crane portrait

Play and parenting, featuring work by Donna Emerson, Rosalie Sanara Petrouske and Donald Crane.
5 minutes


Today’s May 28th. It’s my daughter’s birthday! And what better way to celebrate than with some pieces about daughters. And they’re pieces that Passager printed in its anthology, Keeping Time: 150 Years of Journal Writing.

Normally, you have to be at least 50 to get into Passager. Juliet Emerson was four when she said this — but her mother Donna, who wrote it down, was old enough to qualify for Passager. Here’s “Juliet’s Morning Story Game.”

Pretend we’re horses. (We trot and whinny.)
You’ll be the mother and I’ll be the baby.
We live in this stall in the living room.
And pretend my Daddy is gone, away, maybe dead.

And you might marry a mean man
Who hurts us.

There he is, the mean one,
And he’s hurt us and we cry.
We lie down near each other on the meadow
(We huddle on the floor; holding each other.)
And are hurt (We both whimper.)
But I get better and you don’t.
(Juliet gets up on her feet and frolics.
Juliet then picks up a yellow pillow and hands it to me saying)

Here’s some hay. It will make you feel better.
(I eat the hay and Juliet looks satisfied.)

Then we find our Daddy here, our good Daddy.
He’s under this rock and he’s alive!
Oh now we have our Daddy back again! (We prance and dance.)

Donna and Juliet Emerson’s “Morning Story Game.”

Rosalie Sanara Petrouske said that her daughter, Senara, was born while she was finishing graduate school — Rosalie, that is — and her friends humorously dubbed her dissertation “Raising Senara.” She kept a journal through most of Senara’s childhood. Here are a couple excerpts.

Senara is almost three years old. When she was very small, premature and first home, she would clear her throat, and the noise she made sounded like the cries of a baby dolphin. “She is going to be quite vocal when she grows up,” the nurses in the Special Care nursery predicted. She is, of course, constantly talking to her dolls or to herself. She is interested in the world around her and still maintains her fascination from last summer with the moon. At night when we drive out, she looks for the white globe in the sky and sings oh, moon, moon, moon. From the time she has started to talk, her words have been clear, each syllable enunciated perfectly, and instead of speaking in garbled baby sentences, she uses articles and conjunctions.

I love my daughter so much, but sometimes she makes me angry. It’s the independence in her that angers me; the insistence that she must do everything herself. When she washes her hands or brushes her teeth, she does not want me to help her. It’s the same thing with washing her hair. She wants to pour her own shampoo over her wet curls, and then she empties the whole bottle into the bathwater. This summer she wanted to climb the slide by herself, pulled herself up the metal bars of the jungle gym, kicked and screamed when I climbed up to catch her. “Leave me alone,” she said . . .

I want Senara to fly, but not too far away, too soon.

Excerpts from Rosalie Sanara Petrouske’s journal “Raising Senara” from Passager’s anthology Keeping Time.

We’ll end this episode of Burning Bright with Donald Crane’s poem “Granddaughter.”

The appraising, full faced stare
of a six year old:

As cool as a used car salesman
Overbearing as a traffic cop
No nonsense as your high school principal.

In a few years she will acquire
the arts of her sex:

The side glance
The tilt of the head
The smile that explodes out of nowhere like a million suns.

But for now she knows
there is candy in the pocket of my vest

And why won’t I give her some?

“Granddaughter,” Donald Crane, from Passager’s Issue 54, published Winter, 2013.

This episode of Burning Bright was explicitly about daughters and granddaughters. But almost everything Passager publishes, almost everything that older writers write is for their daughters and granddaughters, their sons and grandsons, their nieces, nephews, and relatives they may never know about but who will cherish these words that convey not only information but emotions and perceptions of the people that came before them.

To buy Passager’s anthology of 150 years of journal writing Keeping Time, or to subscribe to or learn more about Passager and its commitment to writers over 50, go to passagerbooks.com. You can download Burning Bright from Spotify, Apple and Google Podcasts and various other podcast apps.

For Kendra, Mary, Christine, Rosanne, and the rest of the Passager staff, I’m Jon Shorr.

Not pictured: Donna Emerson and Rosalie Sanara Petrouske.