Baby girl so tiny in my hands
I know your smile even today
I apologize for hurting you,
if those thoughts should come,
I never meant to be away long

You’d scootch your way up the stairs
all confidence and fearless
then jump into my arms
from the coffee table
full of trust and love

The baby I knew is a mother now
her husband looks like a good man
I worried you would struggle
but you have shown me
the past made way for a wonderful future

If you had the mind I have these questions
all about your life
What’s your favorite color?
Were you good in school?
Did you become what you wanted to be when you grew up?

There are lessons I hoped to teach you
I pray that you have learned
to love unafraid
to carry the truth
to be the soul of perseverance

So much is lost in the silences we share
I would reach you if I knew the way
I may not know the woman you are
but I know the soul of you and
I never doubted you would Rise

I don’t deserve your forgiveness
rather I offer mine own to you
if you ever had hurt feelings
and blamed it all on me
I understand and it’s okay

Yet something tells me you never
let the knowledge of life pass astray
and though you may not know me
you know the soul in me is
half of the soul in you

My baby girl I love you
as best as anything I can
I always hope the best for all you do
I pray each night for your peace
my Jacqueline


  1. Tyler on October 3, 2023 at 12:10 PM

    What a touching piece of writing. I can only imagine the frustration, pain, grief, and other emotions you endure by not watching your daughter grow up. It is enlightening to see that you forgive her for any negative feelings and have reached an understanding for her point of view. The baby girl first described still exists within the mother now, and those early memories will forever have an impact on Jacqueline whether she knows it or not.

    Beautiful writing my friend.


  2. Colin on October 7, 2023 at 2:16 PM

    It’s good that you have someone to look forward to seeing once you get out! I’m sure that you’ll meet again, and she’ll be happy to see you!

  3. Jonah on October 8, 2023 at 12:40 PM

    RL, this poem is powerful. Your love is clear from word to word, and the images your words paint are vivid. “You know the soul in me is half of the soul in you” was my favorite part here as it is such a beautiful phrase with so much meaning.

  4. Sarah on October 8, 2023 at 3:18 PM

    This poem is relatable to so many, even from the perspective of Jacqueline. It takes a lot of courage to admit when you’ve hurt someone, and this poem shows that in a beautiful way. I really enjoyed the free verse format, as it allows you to explore your thoughts on such an important topic, like family, without feeling like you need to stick to any specific rules. Reading this poem, especially the line, “Yet something tells me you never let the knowledge of life pass astray” made me feel hopeful, in the sense that we can all reflect back on parts of our lives, and continue on knowing that we have learned from our pasts. This is a very touching and beautiful piece, I would love to read more of your work!

  5. Morgan Schoenenberger on October 8, 2023 at 3:27 PM

    Your description is amazing and I love the way I can feel some of what your feeling towards your daughter. The story you’re trying to tell just flows and the reader can pick up on your feelings and can empathize with you. Can’t wait to read what you write next

  6. Megan on October 8, 2023 at 7:20 PM

    What a beautiful poem. I’m sure your daughter carries you in her heart. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Shelby on October 8, 2023 at 10:06 PM

    The love you have for Jacqueline is very obvious, and I hope one day you are reunited. Keep pushing forward!


  8. Rachel B. on October 9, 2023 at 10:54 AM

    RL –

    This was a beautiful poem. You may not know the details of your daughter’s life, but you know her soul and her heart. You two will always be connected. Prayers for you and Jacqueline – that you may always remember how loved you both are. Keeping growing, loving your daughter, and writing these beautiful poems!

  9. Linzee on October 10, 2023 at 10:03 AM

    I see your grief that you shared throughout this poem. I am sure your daughter took what she learned from you and used it to help her grow into the beautiful person that she is today. I know it feels like there is such a huge disconnect between you and your daughter, but remember she shares part of your soul as you recognized. I hope one day you and your daughter reunite and can forgive each other.

  10. Lilly on October 10, 2023 at 10:10 AM

    This is very beautiful, it’s personal, and it’s full of love. While taking my time to read this poem, and going over your points over and over, I could feel the emotion, and the sincerity within. Being a parent is not easy, especially for those who are incarcerated, and by reaching out to your daughter in such an emotional and touching way, you’re also touching so many hearts who can relate to your struggles. I truly respect you putting your heart out like this, and I thank you for doing so. I went through the very same with my father, and reading this made me feel as if I was hearing from him, so thank you.

  11. Aniyah on October 10, 2023 at 10:11 AM

    Being a child of a someone who was in and out of prison my entire childhood, I resonate and really appreciate this poem. Although the situations I can assume are different in many ways, I can relate and feel the grief of missing your family when one is in prison. When I wouldn’t see my dad for months to years at time because of him being incarcerated this poem is kind of how I’d imagine or conversations would go if we had visits or he called me. Although the circumstance of the situation are not good and the emotion correlated with the poem is grief or loss but also trying to communicate being proud and love, I find to be really true and beautiful.

  12. MG on October 10, 2023 at 10:29 AM

    Hi RL,
    I really enjoyed reading your poem. I can tell that you have immense love for your daughter. She is so loved although it is unfortunate that you couldn’t be a part of your life. I’m sure she doesn’t think of you the way you think she does. In my experience usually the unknown is geared towards a more positive mindset. She is grateful to have a father who loves her unconditionally! please remember that you are enough and loved. Keep your head up !


  13. Morgan on October 12, 2023 at 8:45 PM

    This poem brought tears to my eyes. The emotional pace was perfect, I felt I was walking with you lock step through the feelings of time passing as Jacqueline grew up. When I read the lines “I may not know the woman you are/ but I know the soul of you” my eyes filled with tears. I mourn for your loss, I mourn for hers. I mourn for those along with you because you have found a way to turn this deep pain and loss into a beautiful and moving piece of art. I can feel through the page the deep pain of the difficult passage of time. There is a beauty to being loved so deeply, even if from afar and there is often an even deeper beauty to being able to love so fully, even when you can’t see where it goes. I believe it is in the universe, and she knows. I will carry the love you showed in this poem in my own universe as well. Thank you for your writing.

  14. Jamie on October 13, 2023 at 11:28 AM

    Hi! I think that this poem is such a heartfelt expression of your love and longing for your daughter. Despite being separated you speak so highly of her and that is such a strong genuine connection between two souls. I bet she is a really wonderful person doing great things!

  15. Lancy Liu on October 15, 2023 at 7:04 PM

    I felt your love for your daughter in these words. Keep writing.

  16. Phoebe Lynn Jackson on October 16, 2023 at 3:58 PM

    Dear RL, Your poem certainly says a lot about your life and the changes you have made. There are so many times we wish we could change the past, change the choices we have made. Alas, we are where we are because of the path our lives have taken. We learn along the way… we learn good ways of changing or we find ourselves on the same path unable to make changes. There is a book called The Dance of Anger. It is such a lovely way for me to change how I dealt with people in my life. But it sounds like you can’t meet your daughter. But I believe your poem is an answer to a sense of prayer for you. I am sending you my sense of peace for you and your place in the world. PL

  17. Maddy lane on October 17, 2023 at 3:49 PM

    This is a beautiful piece that really comes from the heart. The use of open ended questions in this asking for answers to how the life they aren’t in is going. Trying to understand the outside world through a looking glass but even with the answers to their questions they ask not knowing what the other half of their thoughts hurts them on the inside.

  18. Choudhry Ahmed on October 22, 2023 at 2:32 PM

    It captures the essence of growth, love, and continuity, emphasizing the profound joy that comes from witnessing one’s child take the next step on their own journey while embarking on a new adventure of parenthood. It reminds us that family bonds endure through time, reinforcing the enduring power of love and generational connection.

  19. Chloe Espinal on October 22, 2023 at 6:16 PM

    You did a beautiful job communicating the perspective of a parent. This is a raw piece charged with so much love and it’s amazing. I hope your daughter has a way to see this, because this is proof of how much her parents love her. I love how you convey your regrets and the distress that came with intentions or plans changing. I also noticed how you capitalized “Rise” in the sixth stanza, and I thought that had a lot of meaning in regards to how far your daughter has come. I love this, please do keep writing.

  20. Olivia P. on October 29, 2023 at 11:31 PM

    I so enjoyed reading this poem! It is such a touching piece. I could feel the emotion regarding the strained father-daughter relationship that this poem focuses on. I especially liked how the author questions his daughter’s favorite color, academic standing, and job. I think this section really draws in how although the author may not know his daughter, he is curious about the major things in her life like her job as well as the more mundane things like her favorite color. This whole poem exudes love and regret from the author for not being in his daughter’s life. This was a lovely sad piece that made me appreciate the relationships I am lucky enough to have in my life.

  21. Boriana Lassiter on October 30, 2023 at 9:47 AM

    RL, your words brought me to tears. Certain phrases cut to the heart of me. I felt the love, longing, sorrow, and loss in your words. I love that you are offering her your own forgiveness. I love that you say “it’s ok” if she blames you. You understand. You want nothing but the best for her, and you love her with all your heart. I hope that she opens her heart to read your poem. I hope she finds it in her heart to open as fully as you have, to recognize the humanity and fallibility in us all, and through this understanding let’s you in. I wish you a peace and fullness of joy, in the midst of your sorrow, that defies comprehension. Keep forgiving yourself, keep believing in the love God has for you, and in the love that you are. Keep writing! You are gifted! Let me know if you want technical feedback on your poem, too. I’m not sure what type of feedback I’m being asked to give, but I wanted to focus on encouragement. Happy to give feedback that’s more technical, too.



  22. Sophia on October 30, 2023 at 6:05 PM

    Wow this was beyond amazing. I felt the emotions through your words and the absolute love you have for your daughter. I hope one day she reads this. Keep writing; your words are touching more people than you know.

  23. Avital on November 3, 2023 at 1:03 PM

    Wow. Your words are so powerful and full of emotion. This poem flows beautifully and as the reader, I can see the strained relationship, and longing you convey. The pace of this piece emphasizes the flow of emotions that you express, and the forgiveness you offer toward the end is so moving. I hope that you continue to write because the raw emotion that you manage to capture in your words is powerful.

  24. Molly on November 6, 2023 at 3:11 PM

    This is a beautiful poem. The way you describe the lessons you had always wanted to teach your daughter really made me emotional. It reminded me of the love moms have to give and the generosity of their hearts. I also admire the part about loving unafraid. This is something I feel like many people struggle with, so this encouragement is extremely meaningful.

    Again, this was beautiful.


  25. Lala on November 8, 2023 at 7:24 AM

    I just want to take a moment to appreciate your wonderful writing! Your description of your experiences with your daughter is simply amazing. I love how you convey your emotions towards her, it’s very heartwarming. The story you’re telling is very engaging and your writing style is very impressive. I’m really excited to see what you write next, keep up the great work!

  26. Alex Barber on November 8, 2023 at 12:27 PM

    Wow these words are so powerful and you can feel the emotion in this poem. It is evident that you miss your daughter and that you love her very much. I can’t imagine the pain you must feel everyday not getting to see her. You put it best in words and you have expressed how much you really care for her. I hope she reads them and hopefully she knows how much you love her. Don’t stop writing poems like these because they are what keeps you connected to your daughter. I really enjoyed reading this and know that God always has a plan no matter the circumstances. The flow of the poem was really good and told a story from past to present. Great job!

  27. Hena on November 12, 2023 at 12:00 AM

    The poem is a testament to the enduring nature of love, the passage of time, and the inevitability of change. The final lines, expressing love and hope for her peace, encapsulate a parent’s eternal wish for their child’s well-being. Your words have beautifully captured the essence of a parent’s journey, filled with reflections, acceptance, and unwavering love.

  28. lamb on November 12, 2023 at 11:18 AM

    Oh RL, what a beautiful poem. What a loving heart and soul you have. I am so hopeful that your J has all the beautiful things you want for her, simply because she has part of your own heart and soul with her daily. I value and admire the courageous clarity of your heart amid the uncertainty and not knowing. J is lucky to carry part of your heart and soul with her each day.

  29. Gabriella on November 17, 2023 at 10:19 AM

    Your poem is a heartfelt reflection on the passage of time, the bittersweet evolution of a relationship between you and your now-adult child. The way you reminisce about tender moments with your daughter, expressing regret for any pain caused by your absence and a longing to connect despite the distance that has grown between you. Your poem beautifully captures the essence of a parent’s love, acknowledging the daughter’s growth into adulthood and the worry that accompanied it. There’s a blend of remorse for missed opportunities to impart wisdom and guidance, juxtaposed with a sense of pride and admiration for the woman she has become. You yearn to bridge the gap, to know the person your daughter has become, asking questions about her life, hoping she has imbibed the lessons of love, truth, and perseverance. There’s an admission of your own imperfections and a sincere offer of forgiveness, expressing an understanding if your daughter ever harbored hurt feelings.

    The poem’s emotional depth lies in the recognition of an unbreakable bond—a shared soul that transcends physical distance and time. The parent’s love is unwavering, evident in their prayers for her well-being and a continual hope for her success and peace.

    It’s a poignant piece that captures the universal themes of parental love, growth, and the desire for connection despite life’s complexities and the passage of time.

  30. Landin on November 18, 2023 at 12:49 PM

    Very Powerful poem. The message is very vivid and the emotion behind every word is strong. Many of your phrases I could relate to and feel a connection to this poem.

  31. Anna on November 19, 2023 at 4:47 PM

    RL, this is such a wonderful poem. I can truly feel what you’re feeling through your words. I think your daughter would love to read this and I hope she gets to one day. Keep the love you have for her as you may get to express it to her one day. I wish you nothing but the best!

  32. Andrew Texeira on November 19, 2023 at 11:45 PM

    This was beautiful. Reading this poem I could feel the emotion, and how sincere you were. Being a parent isn’t easy, especially for those who are incarcerated. But reaching out to your daughter in such an emotional way truly takes courage and I respect that. I bet your daughter does to.

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The poets featured here are currently incarcerated, and many of them are in federal prisons far from home. Your feedback is a valuable source of motivation and connection to the outside community. Post your comments, feedback, and encouragement in the space below the poem. Messages will be passed on directly to the author. Comments may not appear immediately on the site, as our team processes them to mail to the poets.