What is the critical analysis of the poem "The Youngest Daughter" by Cathy SongThe sky has been dark for many years. My skin has become as damp and pale as rice paper and feels the way...

What is the critical analysis of the poem "The Youngest Daughter" by Cathy Song

The sky has been dark
for many years.
My skin has become as damp
and pale as rice paper
and feels the way
mother’s used to before the drying sun
parched it out there in the fields.
      Lately, when I touch my eyelids,
my hands react as if
I had just touched something
hot enough to burn.
My skin, aspirin colored,
tingles with migraine. Mother
has been massaging the left side of my face
especially in the evenings
when the pain flares up.
This morning
her breathing was graveled,
her voice gruff with affection
when I wheeled her into the bath.
She was in a good humor,
making jokes about her great breasts,
floating in the milky water
like two walruses,
flaccid and whiskered around the nipples.
I scrubbed them with a sour taste
in my mouth, thinking:
six children and an old man
have sucked from these brown nipples.
I was almost tender
when I came to the blue bruises
that freckle her body,
places where she has been injecting insulin
for thirty years. I soaped her slowly,
she sighed deeply, her eyes closed.
It seems it has always
been like this: the two of us
in this sunless room,
the splashing of the bathwater.
In the afternoons
when she has rested,
she prepares our ritual of tea and rice,
garnished with a shred of gingered fish,
a slice of pickled turnip,
a token for my white body.
We eat in the familiar silence.
She knows I am not to be trusted,
even now planning my escape.
As I toast to her health
with the tea she has poured,
a thousand cranes curtain the window,

Asked on by elozoya

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kimfuji's profile pic

kimfuji | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted on

It is a beautiful poem about a mother-daughter relationship, where the mother is elderly and the daughter is a grown woman, taking care of her.

At the beginning of the poem, the narrator realises she is getting older. She has migrains. She lives with her mother.

There are quite a few lines describing her bathing her mother. Those lines reveal very much about her mother's history and her current illness, she had 6 children but now she is very old and frail. Her mother jokes about her large breasts. Her mother has diabetes.

The daughter feels weary from having spent so many years taking care of her mother.

In the end her mother performs her daily ritual of preparing tea and rice with gingered fish and pickled turnips. The narrator says that her mother knows she(narrator) can't be trusted. This means that she will not stay there with her mother forever.

The daughter admits that she is already planning to escape.

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