Challenge by Dominic Nelson-Ashley

Guest editor Degna Stone was attracted to this poem because it shows “the ever changing relationship between a parent and child. The challenge of responding to someone who is constantly evolving to find their place within the world.”

I knew she was a girl before she arrived.

Didn’t have to tell me.

A father knows these things.

Don’t let nobody tell you different.


I think the first word she said was ‘Why?’

Not ‘Mummy’ or ‘Daddy’ or ‘Love’

But ‘Why?’


I take her abroad.

She sits,

Amongst the sand dunes

Treads on castles


Takes in every moment, every movement

Refuses to rhumba.

Not interested in the festivities,


with the B-team performers

Jovial about nothing more than

we’re on holiday

And they’re getting paid


She looks with side eye

Or over the rim of her glasses

saying the same thing every day


Are you up for the challenge of a daughter?

If not,

Raise your game.


To the bemusement of her

white mother

she calls herself Black.


To the frustration

of her black father

she calls herself English


to her Geography teacher,

she is a political genius.


All her questions are rhetorical.

‘You got a problem? Why?’


I sit waiting whilst

Women take her away


For initiations


Black girl make up

Black girl hair

Black girl books

Black girl role-models


She comes back,

Looking exactly the same

Sounding exactly the same

No alternate versions necessary.


I ask myself why

she chose me to be her dad.


I have changed

She has not changed one iota


I have learnt I know nothing.

Dom 2 b 005
Picture by Kev Howard

Dominic JP Nelson-Ashley is author of poetry collection Original Soundtrack, published by Ek Zukban. He has been praised as a writer who is ‘Reminiscent of those understated yet highly accomplished old-school jazz cats’. His other creative work encompasses being a Radio host, Music Journalist, Record Label Boss and an Award-winning Social Entrepreneur.


3 thoughts on “Challenge by Dominic Nelson-Ashley

  1. I love hearing the perspective of a father. Children are such a mystery and such a source of awe to parents, they are not what we thought they would be because so utterly themselves. Reblogged.


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