For One Shot Poetry prompt: Saturday Celebration: Your Past

The prompt asked us to go back in our files and find a very early poem and post it. This poem was one of my very first attempts at poetry, written in 1988, or there about. My English advisor asked me to please submit something for the first ever writing contest on campus. I had only written three poems over the past weekend, after reading Sharon Olds and finding a deep need to respond to her poetry in kind. He promised me no one would ever know what I had done, but they needed entries for the poetry category and weren’t getting very many (they got about thirty altogether). We were both shocked when my poem won first place.

I could only find an early draft of the piece, so have tweaked it a bit to what I hope is close to the original. My daughters were about four and five at the time this was written.


I watch from my room,
silently. These two young
graceful creatures,
as they romp and play

Their bodies as different
as their personalities.
One long and lean
all angles well placed.
The other shorter
with rounded curves.
Both compact with all
that is feminine.

They play, these two,
my daughters, legs entwined,
fingers tickling,
laughter giggling, unaware
of struggle to be woman.

I watch from my room,
a woman taught in silence
to feel shame for all that exists
below my chin, that foreign,
alien, unclean realm.

I watch these two
who glory in an unknown
freedom, see their bodies,
products of my own,
and I know glory

Elizabeth Crawford  2/19/11


About 1sojournal

Loves words and language. Dances on paper to her own inner music. Loves to share and keeps several blogs to facilitate that. They can be found here:
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7 Responses to Redemption

  1. Oh I so love this poem! I was raised in that era too, to feel shame for our perfectly natural bodies. So wonderful that you raised your daughters to feel free and comfortable in their bodies, no small gift. And I especially love how, witnessing their glory, you felt glory, too. Beautiful, Elizabeth! I so love this!

    Sherry, I am so glad I did this prompt. It has been a blessing in many ways. Going back to our beginnings, seeing them new again, is such learning experience on so many levels. I had so many images go through my head as I typed this into this space. Not the least of which, was the look on my Mother’s face when she saw it in print. I have come a long way, but so much is still the same. Thanks for sharing your own memories,



  2. Mary says:

    What a beautiful poem about the innocense of childhood. Glory indeed! Hallelujah.

    Mary, I can read this poem and see clearly what was happening that day and feel the feelings that passed through me as I watched my daughters, fresh from their bath, can even hear them giggling. They are 32 and 33 now, with daughters of their own, amazing isn’t it? Thanks for your generous words,



  3. hedgewitch says:

    I’m not at all surprised it won first prize. Much insight, well put together, a pleasure to read, and a barb at the end. Good stuff, especially for early work.

    Hedgewitch, I was thirty-seven, a freshman in college, and the furthest thing from a poet, I can imagine being. This piece was a mile-marker for me and I am so glad I went back and found it. When the man called from the University to tell me I had won the contest, I didn’t believe him and he had to beg me to listen, lol. And I still didn’t believe him and asked him the name of the poem and what it was about. I think I scared him, but he scared me even more. Thanks for reading and commenting,



  4. Libby says:

    Your poem is amazingly powerful and poignant, Libby

    Thank you Libby. This experience and how it came about is amazing to me. It never once occurred to me that I might, or could win. I was just talking back to Sharon Olds, telling her I understood what she’d said. I don’t really think I even saw it as poetry, after all, I didn’t know squat about poetry, so how the hell could I write it? Yet it was the beginning of a journey that still continues. I am so grateful for that,



  5. Susannah says:

    Wonderful Elizabeth, I love it. And those last two stanza’s are so powerful. The title says it all. I really enjoyed this, so much damage can be (and SO often is) done in the programming we receive about our bodies and sexuality.

    And I SO agree with you, Susannah. I had only just become acqainted with the Women’s Movement at the time this was written. I felt both hobbled and free, all at the same time. My daughters taught me a great deal, and continue to do so. It was hard to write that word ‘naked’ and leave it standing there for all the world to see. It broke the rules I had so carefully been taught, but it also formed a very firm foundation for the rest of my writing process. When you find the right word, use it, no matter how it feels. If its right, its right, and you will know that and feel it throughout your entire being. This poem set me free in far more ways than I could possibly know at that time. Glad you enjoyed it,



  6. I love this poem! Though I didn’t have a little girl of my own. You help me know myself. And your daughters, yourself, and your Mom. Glad you found it, too.

    Thanks Annell. This has been a wonderful experience, going back to this place where it all began. Seeing myself from the perspective of all those other writings, right back there at the beginning, so unaware of where it would all lead. I have and continue to learn so much from the women in my life, you among them. Thank you,



  7. vivinfrance says:

    This is a splendid, natural poem. All the more astonishing that it was written so early in your poetic career.


    Thank you Viv. This poem was a first in so many ways, and very real redemption in many others,



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