Monday, November 28, 2011

The Matador - A Poem

The Matador

My daughter asks
if her hair looks better up or down,
if she should wear these pants
or the other ones, or maybe
this skirt?

However many times she twirls
the cloth, I foolishly believe
there’s a safe direction,
a pivot or swerve that leads back
to the clover, to the peaceful
humming of bees.

The truth is,
she always looks beautiful.
But I am just her mother,
just a big clumsy animal,

and beautiful is code
for fat, or so she tells me
every morning when we dance
around the ring in this cruel sport,
this time-honored tradition.

Friday, November 18, 2011


There's a great article in the New York Times Magazine this week called Teaching Good Sex that discusses an amazing high school sex ed class at Friends' Central School outside Philadelphia. But sex education needs to start much earlier. In an article for the September-October issue of the Horn Book Magazine, Christine Heppermann asks the question, what makes a good sex education book? The essay was later republished as a chapter in A Family of Readers.

Growing up Catholic, I was always afraid of something: unconfessed sins; demonic possession; Sister Alice, my grade school principal, who once clamped her talons on my shoulder and marched me to her office for having a boy's name magic-markered across my palm while receiving Holy Communion. But the one thing that gave me recurring nightmares was the idea that just praying to have a baby could get me knocked up. 
One Sunday, maybe riffing on the Old Testament plight of Abraham and Sarah, our pastor's sermon involved the story of two parishioners, a husband and wife, who had been trying for years to have a child. This was the 1970s, pre-Louise Brown, and apparently the only infertility treatment readily available to the couple was prayer. They prayed together; our pastor prayed with them; and, Io and behold, these prayers were answered. Our pastor had baptized the couple's one-month-old daughter a week earlier. 
The adults in the congregation applauded this happy ending, while my seven-year-old mind began spinning faster than Linda Blair's head in The Exorcist. Of course I wasn't planning on praying for a baby, but what if I did so accidentally? What if I asked God for a hamster or black Converse high-tops but somehow worded my request unclearly and wound up pregnant instead? (read the rest here)