3.26.2007

Thoughts on a Monday


If I could give my girls one thing, it would be a sense of their own self-worth and the power that comes with it. I would save them thirty years of figuring out that their value lies in who they are and not what they look like, though they're indeed beautiful. They'd consider their beauty a blessing, like their health. I'd spare them years in the mirror, have them spend more time looking out at the world around them.

I've always loved this Pamela Gemin poem, for its regret and its message to the young: Love yourselves. Now and always.


SENIOR PICTURE, 1971

I take it all back,
each dirty, lowdown thing I ever said
and felt and thought about you, honey,
and all I put you through.

I take back your Clearasil zits and Midol cramps,
take back those cheap 4-inch gold plated hoops
that infected your earlobes
and snagged your silk shirts;
I take it all back to the K-Mart for you,
stand in the returns line
with armfuls of too-tight bras, blue eyeshadows,
Uncurl and water weight pills.

I take back the menthol stink of those nasty
fags you smoked, breathe in the foul clouds
you blew out your bedroom window;
take out the butts you double-wrapped
in kleenex, sprayed with Glade,
snuck out to the backyard trash can;

take back the pink frosted lipstick
and jasmine cologne you stole from Hudsons
take back the drive-in nights
you puked popcorn and apple wine
out the windows of fast-moving cars,
take back your dancing wild at the Bowl-O-Drome;

your animal, rabid fear of touching
and being touched; your fear of boylust burning
bright as a thousand votives
in St. Joseph's vestibule;
fear of the Lone Airborne Sperm,
fear of the Lord's cool hand
set down hard upon your backside,
fear of His crown of thorns
set down hard upon your hairdo;
take back your venial sins chalked up in fives
on your blank slate soul.

I take back your fear of fat, stronger
than your fear of God, the fear
that kept saying no thank you,
none for me, please; that whittled you down and down
with your chocolate milk lunches
from 116 to 106 to 96 pounds
that Easter you went to Florida;

and even with studio-tinted cheeks
and hair the photographer made too red,
naturally wavy hair set straight
on juice cans and Depot-Doo the night before;
and even in spite of that goofy far-off someday look
the picture pulled out of your face
from God knows where,

I can see it so crystal
clearly now, decades too late,
see your momma was all along right
about you:
you were one sweet bird,
one inside/outside beautiful
special girl.

6 comments:

ads. said...

a lovely poem, an apt poem....though I find your opening statement equally poetic.

Jennifer said...

That poem is even more badass than your pink guitar!

Collin said...

I'd never read that poem. Love it! Thanks for putting it up here. It brought back some memories.

debbie millman said...

awesome, awesome, awesome

MCALDWELLC said...

beautiful.

a/ok said...

beautiful.

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