Butterfly Kisses

Eleanor Rector



Those days, there was always a longing
to be my father’s daughter,
to not be bound by the
thick ropes of DNA, the ones who
granted me my mother’s face, her
large, bright eyes and hair that
glistens in different hues, reflecting
all the shadows and lights of
past lives, collected inside
my trembling ribcage, like the empty
jars we once used to collect lighting
bugs, without understanding the slow
suffocation of confinement ―
we just wanted to watch
the flickering glow, to find a way
to contain that bright and name
it mine, swallow it into my
solar plexus

Those days, there was always the
desperation to tear out my veins, to
unravel the codes that made me
hers ―
these are the ways you are cemented
to her, he told me in those days:
yes, those eyes and nose, but what of
those intrinsic qualities, the ones
who demand you be brash and loud
that make you argue and defend
and those days, I wanted nothing but
to rebraid the fibers of my being
to make me belong as my father’s daughter

Those days, there was always
the need: give me those slim fingers
that can easily remember the rhythm of
decades gone guitar riffs, or the
perfect pitch; give me the mind that
calculates the world in
an instant. More than anything, give
me the genetic makeup to not
find her in the mirror each
time I try to meet my own eyes


There were those golden days, of course
that came after the accident ― how he had to
wash my hair as I leaned my head
into the tub, or tugged a shirt over
my head in the weeks after
I had my bones sewn back into place
and we found our first common ground
amongst the unsteady footing
of painkillers and helplessness

These days, I am nobody’s daughter ―
I am devised from the discarded
blame of my ancestors, welded from
the scattered remains of the family
I am told
that I tore apart, scattered the
bones like a hungry predator
unconcerned by the trail I
leave behind

These days, I don’t find anyone folded
within the creases along my face; I find
no ghosts, but I find no
recognition in the curve of
my cheek, or those peripheral
lines that always tense around
my silent mouth

These days, I am learning
to hold less silence, I am
learning to contain myself
against the riptide, against
the slow fog that seeps in
through my skin


These days, I cannot
be given away
I cannot be caught between
being the property
and the owner of my own

Those days, mama told me
my body belonged to her until
the day I got married, and
afterwards, my flesh would
belong to my husband.
Those days, my father told me
that I’d meet a man just like him,
that I’d find myself married and
suddenly bearing children
for him to teach gently in
all the ways he’s never

In the coming days, I will
defy every hope once
held in his fists,
tying myself eternal to
someone whose soul
transcends boxes and binaries,
alone, except for those
few who can see us
as who we are

I’ve always longed
to be my father’s daughter, to boast
his talent and wit, or
to boast his own pride in me,
but these days, he only voices
the disappointment and
frustration, his words full
of disgust

I longed to be his daughter
before I understood what that meant:
the anger and self-righteousness of
white men asked to face the uncomfortable.
I longed to be his daughter
before I knew that he finds my
hurt to be offensive, before he saw
my memories as assaults or my
pain fraudulent

These days, I do not ache
to belong to anyone
but the soul sleeping
silently beside me, their every
breath a revolution




Eleanor Rector is a South Florida native who works as a Crisis Counselor in Chicago. She studied poetry at the University of Miami under Maureen Seaton and John Murillo. Her work can be seen in Mad Hat Literary Magazine, Verity La, Black Heart Magazine, The Cape Rock, and others.