Wednesday, August 19, 2009


By Victoria Redel

Tell me it’s wrong the scarlet nails my son sports or
the toy store rings he clusters
four jewels to each finger.

He’s bedecked. I see the other mothers looking at the
star choker, the rhinestone
strand he fastens over a sock.
Sometimes I help him find sparkle clip-ons when he
says sticker earrings
look too fake.

Tell me I should teach him it’s wrong to love the
glitter, that a boy’s only a boy
who’d love a truck with a remote that revs,
battery slamming into corners or Hot Wheels
loop-de-looping off tracks
into the tub.

Then tell me it’s fine – really – maybe even a good
thing – a boy who’s got some girl to him,
and I’m right for the days he wears a pink shirt on
the seesaw in the park.

Tell me what you need to tell me but keep far away
from my son who still loves
a beautiful thing not for what it means –
this way or that – but for the way facets set off
prisms and prisms spin up
and from his own jeweled body he’s cast rainbows –
made every shining true color.

Now try to tell me – man or woman – your heart was ever that brave.

Excerpted from Swoon by Victoria Redel (University of Chicago Press, 2003).

Image: Pierre et Gilles.

1 comment:

William D. Lindsey said...

Michael, thank you for introducing me to a poet I don't know, but whom I'll now read with great interest.

That poem hurts--as a really good poem should. It hurts because it hits the heart and makes the heart take notice. I'm smitten by it and now want to read anything of hers I can find.