Five Songs for Daddy

Lynn Hutchinson Lee



Do you see the moon? Dik.There. Behind the clouds. No stars.

The wind is shaking the vardo,

shaking the mirrors on every wall of the vardo.

The mirrors reflect the moon.

four mirrors four moons four children

four moons in the vardo

shining on the children

Ssshhh Sleep

Lizzie Lee’s vardo always on the road.

The wheels of the vardo turning

Wheels that carry them across the north

Tikno Daddy the little one playing the bosh, working the puppets

wheels of the vardo carry them across the north

across the north and back

Eight year old Daddy loses an eye. Look. Dik.

Here’s his new, eye made of glass

The deep brown iris that looks at everything sees nothing

his eye a mirror reflecting the worlds.

The bright world of hedges, fire, the stream

Shadow world of stones and fists



The shore disappears

they are pulled away by wind and currents

no vardo no mirrors

nobody throwing stones at Lizzie Lee and her children

they cast off their skins in a new country on a new road

Canada, without shadows

Beds in a shed a tobacco farm by Tillsonburg

Lizzie Lee and her children bending to the leaves Every day

Picking tobacco


picking tobacco


every day

Three puppets on the bench.

Twelve year old Daddy builds the frame, stretches the leather,

carves the wooden eyes the wooden hands,

attaches the eyes to the mechanism,

makes them wink,

makes them open, flirt, flutter, see.

Sixteen year old Daddy.

Picking tobacco


Picking tobacco


Daddy’s hand in the puppet.

Turning the head, opening the mouth. Speaking. Speaking the world.

Twenty year old Daddy goes away, leaves them behind –

Lizzie, Father, Willy, May, Lillie



Daddy loves fields and rivers

Daddy loves painting loves making rings and necklaces

loves Karl Marx

loves trading, selling: cameras, cars, sewing machines, silver

loves lighting a fire driving past farms into the vesh

loves finding the right place for the vardo



He cried once

on his knees in the dirt

Arms lifted to the sky

His voice too big for his throat.

I am twelve I think I don’t know why he’d cry in the shadow of our vardo

The shadow a dark slash that swallows my father

the sun low in the sky people are watching His hat on the grass, fallen off lying there

good eye clenched, glass eye staring tears pouring from both eyes

the living and the dead

dik dik



The doctor says it was a stroke. Daddy is trying to talk.

He says ah.ah.ah.

His glass eye looks at the ceiling.

Does the other eye close at night, turn inward to see what’s left?

Dik. Dik. Dik everything, dik nothing.

The story he was about to tell

caught in his throat caught

caught at the last minute in his throat breath

breath rattling like leaves

The story he was about to tell it will never be heard

his tongue winds backward into the past, into the past, to vardo, violin, mirrors

the language they swallowed

when they got off the ship

will never be heard is pulled back into the cave of his body

his breath stops

What’s left are two puppets

sometimes we bring them down from the attic

working their mouths, speaking for them

in silly voices

but their truth withheld

swallowed by Daddy

in his last breath