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The Gift -- Carole Oles

Guest poem sent in by Erin Cheatham
(Poem #533) The Gift
 Thinking she was the gift
 they began to package it early.
 They waxed its smile
 they lowered its eyes
 they tuned its ears to the telephone
 they curled its hair
 they straightened its teeth
 they taught it to bury its wishbone
 they poured honey down its throat
 they made it say yes yes and yes
 they sat on its thumbs.

 That box has my name on it,
 said the man.  It's for me.
 And they were not surprised.
 While they blew kisses and winked
 he took it home.  He put it on a table
 where his friends could examine it
 saying dance saying faster.
 He plunged its tunnels
 he burned his name deeper.
 Later he put it on a platform
 under the lights
 saying push saying harder
 saying just what I wanted
 you've given me a son.
-- Carole Oles
I came across this poem in one of my college textbooks and was
immediately captivated.  I appreciate the poems, like this one, that must
be read over and over before they are understood on the surface alone,
and must be read and analyzed and pored over to be truly understood.

This is a beautiful, haunting, and chilling poem that looks at the
cliche of the pretty, submissive, and simple-minded girl and ably gives
that cliche depth.

Erin

42 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Suresh Ramasubramanian said...

Martin Julian DeMello [Thu, Aug 31, 2000 at 08:00:15AM -0500]:

> Thinking she was the gift
> they began to package it early.

Funny how close this comes to real life ... the image of a girl as a doll - a
mindless playtoy really struck me (yup - barbie dolls *are* stereotyped dumb
blondes but this is beside the point <g>)

> they made it say yes yes and yes
> they sat on its thumbs.

Again ... doll == girl.

> That box has my name on it,
> said the man. It's for me.

Marriage = The guy acquires a new toy.

> Later he put it on a platform
> under the lights
> saying push saying harder
> saying just what I wanted
> you've given me a son.

Phew ... pregnancy and childbirth reduced to *this* - drives home the point.

> be read over and over before they are understood on the surface alone,
> and must be read and analyzed and pored over to be truly understood.

No, there are some complexities - and lots of beauty - but this doesn't seem
anywhere near the layer-within-layer mysticism of Blake.

> cliche of the pretty, submissive, and simple-minded girl and ably gives
> that cliche depth.

make that 'a girl _trained_ to be submissive and simple minded'. You force
someone into a mold, it's not very easy to break that mold - and such
stereotypes tend to self-perpetuate.

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