Letters to My Daughter
Published: Feb. 2015
Within: Delphi Series Vol. 1
“Letters to my Daughter is a book of love poems to a first-born daughter. It is also a book of elegy, of fierce promises, and of fierce hope. An original and wonderful book!”—Thomas Lux
“The poetry of Robert Perry Ivey explores the landscapes, the narratives, and the grotesques of the South, and, in something as genuine and bare as a loving lullaby from a father to a daughter, it digs up the overlooked or forgotten truths behind seemingly ordinary, unquestioned things like Christmas trees, analog records, and the memory contained in water. Most importantly, Ivey’s poetry evokes the marvelous complexities of a place often dismissed as simple by those who have never been there or spent much time there.”—Stephen Roger Powers
When you get old enough,
I want you to light an antique oil lamp,
take one of my old records from the cedar chest,
blow the dust off, and gently,
the way you hold a candle-lit cake, the way you hold
your first driver’s license,
or a tray of communion wine shot glasses in a Baptist church,
with both hands and a slow walk,
place a record, whose album art speaks to you, on the altar.
With both fingers, let the needle kiss the vinyl and sing.
Learn to love analog. Be amazed
at the way a simple needle, on simple grooves, dips, and bumps,
miniature trenches, can play every vocal, every strummed string,
percussion pop, splash, and tink,
every bass thump and trumpet blare, an orchestras’ worth
all at once.
I want you to love analog. So
when you are old enough,
light that oil lamp I bought from a yard sale
from Trisha Yearwood’s grandparents, pour a glass of red wine,
play that record, put that needle to the groove and sing.
Make some analog of your own:
perhaps, paint or play guitar, or like Daddy,
put pen to paper and bleed, bleed ink
blossoms, learn the obvious, learn the obscure
and write it beautiful
like the man who polished a cross section of a 100 year old oak,
set it on a record player and, for the first time ever,
let us hear a century of drought,
flood, forest fire, and sunshine in a tree’s low whale song.