Gifts for the Girl

There is a girl inside

There is a girl inside.
She is randy as a wolf.
She will not walk away and leave these bones
to an old woman.

She is a green tree in a forest of kindling.
She is a green girl in a used poet.

She has waited patient as a nun
for the second coming,
when she can greak through gray hairs
into blossom

and her lovers will harvest
honey and thyme
and the woods will be wild
with the damn wonder of it.

                                       — Lucille Clifton


Years ago I co-taught a creative writing class for 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders in an afterschool program.*  We did a lot of different activities with the kids to get them to see that it was ok to play with writing, to think of language as this cool tool they could use in so many different ways.

One of the activities we did was called, “My Wild Me.”  Each child got a small booklet that was mostly blank, but which had descriptive prompts: “My wild me acts like …” “My wild me always …” “My wild me likes to …”  That sort of thing.  We had a lot of fun with it.  I was happy to see that the kids had no problem getting in immediate touch with their wildness, that they had no hesitation about describing themselves as monsters and animals and mythical beings with super powers. 

This Clifton poem always makes me think of that group and that writing exercise.  Sharing a month of Clifton poems has been a wild experience for me.  She touches so many parts of my experience, my heart, me.  Reading and reading and reading through her work to choose poems for this month has been such a vivid pleasure.  I had to resist including the poem that led me to her because I wanted to share less well known pieces.  But thirty days doesn’t give me enough room.  There were so many other poems I would have loved to share.  But this month of reading has been a gift — sometimes beautiful, sometimes funny, sometimes painful, always amazing.

And then I came home from work last night (after that wonderful time of working with the teen theater group, after dinner out with my co-worker and some giddy planning for our Cayman Islands trip) and checked my email.  Checked my email and found a gift I would never have expected: I’ve won a free week at a gorgeous, beyond-my-means villa in my little corner of Jamaica!  No, really.  I entered a raffle — all proceeds go to the scholarship fund for local kids to go to high school — and I won!

My wild me, that girl inside, is dancing and screaming and singing and laughing.  She is shaking her too-fine hair and already feeling the sun on her skin, the sea washing over her toes.

At some point in the next year, I — along with (I hope) my mother and sister — will be staying here:

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I’m still having a hard time knowing this is true, that I have actually won this excellent prize and all the perks that come along with it.

Into my open hands,
like a glistening Blue Morpho
this enormous, beautiful YES lands
lightly, quietly, just so
perfectly. Shock and joy interweave
and accept, happily receive.


*  No, now isn’t the time to examine what a crazy move it was for me — Queen of Not Knowing the First Thing about Working with Children — to have taken on this job.  Now isn’t the time to talk about how completely those children ran over me.  We are only focusing on the good, on the fact that they were lovely kids and — despite having to work with me — they actually produced some lovely writing.

8 thoughts on “Gifts for the Girl

  1. Thanks, Molly! I’m still more than a little shocked at my good luck … but also already making plans for when I’ll go (and trying to — gently — strong arm my mother and sister into joining me).


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