This is the title poem in The Box of Daughter and Other Poems. The poems in the book were written as part of my process of healing from emotional abuse, and the title poem was the inspiration for my memoir, The Box of Daughter.
The Box of Daughter
When I was a little girl,
I wanted more than anything
To be a person.
But my parents wanted me
To be a daughter.
ďWe put you in the box of daughter,Ē they told me,
Though not in so many words,
And having no choice,
Because I was a daughter,
I climbed into the box.
I didnít like it there, but it felt safe.
The box of daughter was small and dark,
There wasnít much air,
And not very much life could get
Into or out of the box.
There wasnít enough room
For all the parts of me,
So I had to leave some of myself
Outside the box.
Then I forgot where it was.
(Or someone threw it away when I wasnít looking.)
My brother was the lucky oneó
He was in the box of son.
He got to do what he wanted
(Though sometimes he got punished for it,
But I guess that was the price of
Being in the box of son and doing what you wanted).
I donít know if heís still in the box now;
He lives in L.A.
Itís been many years now
That Iíve been in the box of daughteró
Iíve worked a lot on the box,
Making holes to see out,
And so that more light and life can come in,
Iíve pushed and pushed at the walls for years and years,
Trying to make the box fit me better,
But itís a very strong box.
Iíve tried just stepping out of the box sometimes,
And sometimes it works;
But Iím afraid it will cause my parents pain
And they already seem to have
Too much to cope with.
How can I hurt people who
Are already hurting too much?
That would make me feel cruel.
And so I live on in the small, dark box of daughter.
I hope one day long before the end of my life
Iíll be set free from the boxó
Iím so excited to find out one day
What life is like
Outside the box of daughter.
Copyright © 1999-2012 Katherine Mayfield. All rights reserved.