"I hat you," my daughter writes
in her newfound mastery of phonics.
She has taken to sending me notes
from kindergarten: love notes,
joke notes, problem notes,
and now angry notes that say
I don't care about her feelings.
These notes arrive after lunch
in envelopes, like the mail,
marked by hearts or skulls.
You are "meen" she says today,
you just sit around and "rit"
and don't let me watch "moves."
Why do her notes carry more weight
than her spoken accusations?
She isn't the same child now:
she is an owner, a thief.

Teresa Cader is the author of two collections of poems: (1991), which won the Norma Faber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America, and The Paper Wasp to be published this fall.

The Atlantic Monthly; June 1998; Correspondence; Volume 281, No. 6; page 60.

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