Miscegenation by Roberta Skyes is a poem about identity and recognition. The title itself gives away the notion that the poem will be about identity in relation to race or culture. The poem follows a similar outline for each stanza where a child is calling out to older men, searching for her father. She knows she is an interracial child because he father is of a different race than her mother, but knows nothing more about her father. She wants to not only recognize him but know him, because he is a part of her identity and she feels incomplete without knowing him. You can read the full poem here.
The first stanza starts out with “excuse me sir”, which is also how every stanza in this poem begin. This is important because not only is the character in the poem trying to grab the attention of someone, Skyes is trying to grab the attention of the reader too, reminding the reader to pay attention because the words that follow are full of value and importance. Line two showcases the core of the little girls search: her father. She is so desperate to find her father that she appears to be asking strangers she meets if they are her father. The next three lines display how frantic she seems because she doesn’t wait for an answer and lunges into professing that she has waited so long to meet him, and exactly how hard life has been for her because of his absence. Having the conversation in the entire poem only being from the side of the child, it is heavily implied that this child is speaking these words in her head as she eyes the men around her who could fit into the mold of what she thinks her father may look like.
The second stanza starts the same way, the child trying to catch the attention of another man but the following line is just the word “please”. The word please being the only word in that line emphasizes the little girls anguish and heartbreak; it brings attention to her plea and gives it sincere depth. Lines eight to ten disclose to the reader a little about the child’s parents. The child describes her father as having brown hair and mentions that her mother said she would be able to recognize him if she saw him. The girl’s facts inform the reader that her mother hasn’t told her anything about her father except for the most simple and common trait, his brown hair; perhaps entailing that she doesn’t want her to know him just yet for her own personal reasons.
In this third stanza the little girl confesses that she knows nothing, she also acknowledges that her mother “always cried” in place of speaking on the topic of her father. This stanza lets the readers recognize that this little girl’s mother has had an emotionally weak stance since the end of her relationship with the girl’s father; things obviously didn’t turn out the way she had wanted or expected and trying to explain that to a child would be especially difficult. This stanza also allows the readers to see that the little girl understands her mother’s situation so she doesn’t pry too much but she yearns for her missing piece of identity so she resigns to look for him on her own with the little knowledge that she does have.
Stanza four is the longest stanza in this poem, it consists of nine lines. It is the point in the poem where she finally allows herself to throw out and ask all the questions that she has been holding on to. She asks if it was love or “loathing” that brought her to existence; what a powerful question. This question displays how intense her desire to know her father is, because it will tell open up doors to her own identity so she can feel like she knows every part of herself starting with the story of her conception. She desperately wants to know if her father was a man who once truly loved her mother and that between their love for each other she had been created; as this would make her confident in her identity including her being biracial, that it wasn’t a mistake. She wants to know and accept that she belongs and was meant to be exactly the way she is without regret or hurt on anyone’s part. The stanza concludes with her exclaiming that s he will “understand”, basically begging for someone to at least try to answer her questions.
This stanza is a plea of honesty. In stanza five the little girls is asking about things she doesn’t fully comprehend, nevertheless she is begging for answers. Here she asks whether her existence traces back to a drunken night. Was she just a mistake caught up in the irresponsibility of two adults? These questions are important to her because she wants to know the truth about her story and her identity. She wants to be able to look in the mirror and recognize every ounce of herself instead of second guess parts of her. She is willing to accept that the story of her existence is not a happy one as long as someone would just step forward and readily answer her questions honestly.
Stanza six dives into the little girls heart as she thinks of her past. She tells the reader she has always wanted her father around, then instead of explain why she says “you know how it is with girls” suggesting that she doesn’t want to pick at her wound of missing a father figure growing up. She expects the reader to understand that every girl is known to need her father and it is a common enough fact that she shouldn’t have to explain it. Furthermore she says she grew up without lace or ribbons, implying that it is fathers who spoil their daughters with such little details and because she didn’t know hers, she missed out. For such a little girl to be thinking about such minute details expresses just how much she has noticed his absence, so much so that she claims that her mind was all in a “whirl”.
Stanza seven exposes the innocence of this girl as she cries out that it is not a “real” reason like money that she wants to know her father for, she just wants to know him. She thinks that others will not consider her reasons for wanting to know her father as real because nothing tangible comes from them; she thinks her feelings of validating her identity are only real in her own eyes, and to some degree she is right. She also mentions in this stanza that it would make a world of difference just to know him; that is because she could then finally put a face to her image of him and in turn feel like a complete individual.
Here, in the eighth stanza the little girl is very open and upfront about the situation, in a manner that only children can be. She is ready to accept that her father might not even love her, and even goes as far as wanting to keep his identity a secret if only he would just let her know who he is. She doesn’t even want him to be an active part of her life or play the role of father, just knowing who he is will help her find the peace of mind that she is so desperately looking for.
Stanza nine is important because it lets the reader know a little bit more about the insecurity the little girl has been dealing with. She tells herself and anyone who is listening to her pleas that her “mum was black” and her “dad was white” so that is why she is “brown”; by stating this so bluntly she is expressing her family dynamics in order to help herself identify with it in confidence. She is literally a mix of the two of them and simply is demanding that she get a chance to know the half that is missing, however that has become the most difficult for her.
Stanza ten is a final exhausted plea from this little girl who is struggling to find her father. She doesn’t even want him to do anything for her; she just wants a confirmation of his existence. It seems that just by knowing he is out there somewhere and carries the title of being her father, she feels a sense of belonging and she cannot sincerely identify with it, if she cannot recognize who he is. By this point in the poem she just really wants to know if he even exists.
This stanza is actually not much of a stanza it is three lines of “excuse me /sir”. This is such a powerful way to end the poem for Skye as it highlights her continuous struggle and effort to find her father, beyond what the reader can reach. It is a message of her persistence to solidify her identity so she can recognize who she is when she looks in the mirror.