“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.”


Author: A Room of Her Own

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