This 17 line poem stuck me because it repeats the question, “Does every father kill something in his child?” As I see it, fathers give life to their children. Even beyond the literal fact that without the father there wouldn’t be the child, how crucial must a father be in the development of his children? What opinion of a young child isn’t influenced by that of their parents? A father wouldn’t be killing things in his child, but cultivating them as the child grows. (I will note that I’m looking at an ideal case here, where the sole object of the father is to further the understanding and life of his children.)
To argue against my own point I’ll say that even in this idea case, it can be said that a father does kill something in his children. He attempts to get rid of selfish actions, rude behavior, disrespect and harmful tendencies. And this is just the ideal case.
Now I consider the title: “At What Cost?” Perhaps Moglia is also thinking of an ideal case, a good father. The girl in his poem “never interrupts,” and isn’t that a polite thing to do? But instead Moglia is asking us to consider what the cost of never interrupting is. The narrator, a father himself, says, “I stole the critic from mine, / She learned never to take me on.” Theoretically a well-raised child wouldn’t argue with her father, but the narrator doesn’t see this as a victory. He is upset that he has killed the critic in her and that would be the cost of teaching her not to argue with you.
So I wonder if the rest of the title is “At what cost do you impose your ideas on your children?” or “How much do you just have to stand back and let happen?” But maybe that’s a bit of a jump. In any case, it’s a nice poem. Check it out: http://www.calliopewriters.org/issue_132/PoetryPage2.aspx#bottom%20poems