Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Michael T. Young: Holding My Daughter as We Listen to the News

Because the radio repeats their name

my daughter asks what a Nazi is. 

I want to tell her they’re people from the past,

that they march in movies and books,

and in faraway countries her school lessons

haven’t yet charted on the map. But 

the voice on the radio names Virginia 

where her uncle and aunt live. 

So, there’s no lying to spare her. Besides

should I spare her? How do I tell my daughter 

that some people made lampshades out of other people?

How do I assure her that even though 

there are now Americans who admire

those lampshades and praise those people, 

her grandpa from Guyana is safe, 

her aunts and uncles won’t be shot

because their skin is brown? Do I leave

the radio on and face the questions

or do I turn it off? How long do I hold her 

after the questions are over and is it enough 

that she eventually stops shaking?


Michael T. Young’s books include The Infinite Doctrine of Water (Terrapin 2018)

Copyright 2020 Michael T. Young

An organization that specializes in theatrical and provocative protests, the National Socialist Movement (NSM) is one of the largest and most prominent neo-Nazi groups in the United States. (Southern Poverty Law Center)

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