April 8 Poetry: Eleven

While I'm dipping into feminist poets I thought I would share a poem that is a little bit about why we need feminists...feminist daughters, mothers, granddaughters, fathers, brothers, grandfathers...This from a book of poetry called Sacred Precinct by Jacqueline Kudler. She plays with the intersection of holy women (Leah, Hagar, Sarah) and contemporary women's lives. I love the whole book really! But here is the poem that has become a prayer for me.

Oh that I may raise a daughter who discovers herself before she is a grandmother.


She is eleven in the forefront
of the photograph, horizon
of cousins on the beach behind her,
a sister on either side--
a younger, rapt in the the particular
oblivion of sandcastles,
the older, with a new camera
smile tentatively attached,
shoulders hunched inward
over the new breasts.

But she is eleven, cross-legged,
head high, smile wide,
Look at me, it says and she is
something, all right, centered
as she is on all the balance
beams between the school yard
and her storybooks.

It will be forty years before
the world will hold so steady
so still again beneath her feet.
Meanwhile, biology will begin
its hormonal high step, spin her
once, twice, nine times around
the room, utterly up-end her.

Meanwhile, the chorus of voices
will reshape her- tighten her
belly, her thighs, her smile.
She will learn to lower her gaze

She will not recognize
her face until a day years
later on an opposite shore,
when kneeling in the sand
camera cocked, she cries,
Here! Look here minute!
And her granddaughter
turns to her and smiles.

-Jacqueline Knudler


  1. Huh! You always find such interesting things to share, R! I really enjoyed that one.

  2. I love this poem! And somehow, in watching my own mom transform in her older age, I feel there is such truth in it, too.

  3. Awww thanks. I pretty much love this one as well.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts