Thursday, June 12, 2014

Poetry Friday: 8th Grade Dance

Poetry has been in the news lately. We lost Maya Angelou on May 28 and this week gained a new U.S. Poet Laureate in Charles Wright. But I'll leave others to laud Wright's work this Poetry Friday.

To find those poetry posts and more, visit Catherine Johnson's blog. Thanks for hosting Poetry Friday this week, Catherine!

There is only one "current event" at the Shovan household this week: Tonight's 8th grade dance.

Our central Maryland school district doesn't believe in pomp and circumstance ceremonies, except in the case of completing high school. Instead of walking across a stage to receive a middle school diploma, my daughter has a bevy of smaller celebrations. Tuesday was the 8th grade picnic. (My prize for chaperoning, a tick bite on the ankle.) Next Friday, there will be a slide show and awards celebration.

Tonight is the big event. I'll spend the afternoon decorating the school with other parents. The theme is "Glow in the Dark." My daughter almost wore a black t-shirt dress with hand-decorated with glow-in-the-dark paint (which would have been SO COOL), but opted for a traditional party dress.

We had a last minute panic as she realized her shoes did not match her dress. It was Mom to the rescue with a pair of pink sandals. Whew!

There is a favorite poem playing in my mind this week. It was written by one of my early writing mentors, Maria Mazziotti Gillan. I have known and loved this poem since before my daughter was born. It's strange to find her here -- at this moment of becoming -- which Maria describes with such clarity.

My Daughter at 14, Christmas Dance
by Maria Mazziotti Gillan

Panic in your face, you write questions
to ask him. When he arrives,
you are serene, your fear
unbetrayed. How unlike me you are.

After the dance,
I see your happiness; he holds
your hand. Though you barely speak,
your body pulses messages I can read

all too well. He kisses you goodnight,
his body moving toward yours, and yours
responding. I am frightened, guard my
tongue for fear my mother will pop out

of my mouth. "He is not shy," I say. You giggle,
a little girl again, but you tell me he
kissed you on the dance floor. "Once?"
I ask. "No, a lot."

We ride through rain-shining 1 a.m.
streets. I bite back words which long
to be said, knowing I must not shatter your
moment, fragile as a spun-glass bird,

you, the moment, poised on the edge of
flight, and I, on the ground, afraid.

Poem from Where I Come From, Guernica

Here is Maria, featured on PoetryVlog.


12 comments:

Diane Mayr said...

Wow, what mother can't relate to this poem? And especially this line, guard my
tongue for fear my mother will pop out
.

I hope everyone survived the dance!

Julie Larios said...

Such a tender moment - I especially love the girl's body "pulsing messages" - definitely been there, done that, as both an 8th-grader myself, and on the other side of it, as a mom trying to read what my daughter was feeling. Thanks for sharing this. (And sorry about that tick bite!!)

Anonymous said...

Have fun! I love that line - "...for fear my mother will pop out..."

Mary Lee said...

It's a little goosebumpy that this poetic moment is coming true in your life!

jama said...

Hope all goes well at the dance. Wonderful poem which captures the mother's POV so convincingly.

catherinemjohnson.wordpress.com said...

That's a beautiful poem at such a difficult moment for a mother. I hope the dance goes well too. Ticks, ack!

Tabatha said...

She really captures the moment. I like "knowing I must not shatter your
moment, fragile as a spun-glass bird"

Sorry to hear about your tick. Both my girls have gotten them already this year.

Violet N. said...

What a perfect poem for your day! She sure captures that moment of trepidation, when we see our birdlets about to take flight.

I have not heard of this poet, but will run her work down some more. I like it.

Ruth said...

So lovely. And such a perfect description of mothering a teenager.

Myra Garces Bacsal said...

Here's hoping that the dance went beautifully. As a mother of a 12 year old girl, my heart feels like it's being pinched a thousand times as I was reading the poem - captures my sentiments so perfectly.

Carol Varsalona said...

I enjoyed reading this poem that reminded me of first thoughts. Interesting enough, while walking on the boardwalk today, I noticed a dad wearing a tee shirt that said, "Rules for Dating Daughters" - appropriate for Father's Day. Then, I came home and found your blog on Poetry Friday.

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

This poem sure hit home with me, Laura. Dylan's middle school treated his 8th grade graduation in a similar manner. He also had an end of year "social" -- like a prom without the pressure of having to ask a date. In the last 6 months, Dylan has decided he enjoys dressing up, albeit in pants that are perpetually just a tad too short and a jacket that's slightly too tight.