“Girl” by Marilyn Flower
This poem was originally published as “Daughter” in 2017 in Down in the Dirt Magazine, and will soon be republished in the blog “In a Woman’s Voice.” My background and culture is Jewish-American, third generation. I teach “Life and Literature” in an Emeritus program at a community college.
My mama’s favorite was her son who died,
the boy I was born to replace.
She lay in her bedroom and shrieked
“God! How could you take my son?”
Papa built a schul
for his son who died
and prayed there every day.
He tucked my hair in a skull cap
so I could sit with him at schul.
I heard the men chant their daily prayer:
“Thank you, God, for not making me a woman.”
My father enrolled me in public school,
not the Jewish school like my boy cousins.
For the class picture the very first year,
Teacher pinned up my hair with a bow.
I took that picture in my hands;
I smiled and danced with joy.
“I am a girl,” I cried, “and I will be a woman.”