To My Goddaughter

by Jeremy Voigt


Kataleya Ludvonina Hartt Plazas: bn. August 10th, 2014 1:21 am 8lbs, 12oz

Kataleya, the word of the day the day
you were born was inveigle, in case you ever
want to know. You can pronounce it vay-guhl

or vee-guhl based on conditions beyond
my knowledge because they are not illustrated
in the email delivered to my inbox. Even so,

the email does give advice, a quote usually,
and today’s says the human body is the most
complex machine and then gives words from

the father of medicine: “the life so short, the craft
so long to learn.” I am thinking now of pimples
across your nose as you were sleeping in arms.

The first time I met you I didn’t hold you.
I’ve always hesitated when the world placed
itself before me. Please insert here some advice

regarding reaching out. Regarding touch. Regarding
trusting your senses and your body now in its parental
nest. Inveigle means to get something or to persuade

someone to do something by deception or flattery.
I like to get my way as often as possible. I’m told
there are angels everywhere about us. What do they give

us? Shall we challenge them together? You shake
your fist in a frightened twitch of an infant’s bad dream.
I want to be poor and shabby as possible. Your grandpa

lives by a small and lovely lake where we picked
blackberries, cutting our hands. Inveigle is from
old French avengle or blind, and the Latin—away from,

and oculus or eye. It was first used in 1513. What
am I trying to persuade you of? You are lovely,
a small box of human flesh. A full head of dark hair.

What moment did I miss when my children were born?
I offer you my children. As your godfather I’m to gift
spiritual guidance. The quote of the day says, “the internet

has changed the way new late-night hosts inveigle their ways
into the hearts of fans.” Bill Carter said this. I don’t know
who Bill Carter is, but now it is a name you have heard in this

first week of your life. Or month of your life. Or year, if I
am ever able to send this. What fills is often small. I am a fan
of you from over here. Please insert here advice for expressing

the way the smell of lake water can fill one up, can flatter
itself into a lung, a heart. Insert here a line by me that sounds
wise and like an ancient quote. I don’t watch late night TV,

or really any TV, but I know what Bill Carter means.
This is a sound bite world. Each class for a quarter a professor
of mine put a quote on the board. Each quote was from Anon.

and I spent the quarter wondering who the diverse and inspired
Anon was, where was he from and how did he produce so many
timeless lines. Insert here a lesson in humility. There is sun moving

through the dogwood tree in my backyard. A cool August morning.
Remember when drinking from the river to drink only half
your cup and return the other half so you’ll never be blind. Or

something else seemingly wise and poor as I believe god intended
us to be, cheated, mugged, happy, here is a shy smile, a little
squeeze for your arm, a lassoed angel of confused words. Be well.

JEREMY VOIGT’s poems have appeared in Gulf Coast, Post Road, Willow Springs, Fifth Wednesday Journal, BPJ, and other magazines. His chapbook, Neither Rising nor Falling, was featured on The Writer’s Almanac. He was nominated for a Pushcart Prize by judge Robert Wrigley, and his manuscript, Estuary, has been a semi-finalist for the Dorset Prize, The Crab Orchard first book prize, and the Miller Williams prize. He lives, writes, reads, parents, runs, in Bellingham, and teaches or has taught at Burlington-Edison high school, Whatcom Community College, Skagit Valley College, and Wenatchee Valley College.