Tuesday, January 11, 2011
When we were in Yangshou after Christmas, Dagim was very interested in my pearl necklaces. He liked to hold them and play with them. One morning, as we were getting ready for breakfast, I put one necklace on and he asked if he could wear the other. I said sure, and held back the comments about pearls being for girls. Chris took this picture at the breakfast table. One day, Dagim will probably be furious with me for posting this but I just love this picture. I wish you could have seen how excited and proud he was to be wearing my pearl necklace. It reminded me of one of my favorite poems (perhaps my favorite): "Bedecked" by Victoria Redel.
I was lucky to study with many amazing teachers when I was in the MFA program at Sarah Lawrence College. Victoria Redel was the one teacher I wanted to study with but didn't. When I heard her read this poem, I fell a little bit in love with her (and this was before I had a son of my own). And then she did an absolutely amazing lecture about writing that seriously changed the way I approach short stories but that's a topic for a different post.
I'm sure I'm violating copyright laws by posting this poem here but several other bloggers have posted it and they don't seem to be in jail. Besides, Victoria always seemed like a lovely woman to me and I'm hopeful that she wouldn't mind me putting it here for you to read. Because really, it's the perfect accompaniment to this photograph. This poem begs to be read aloud. So go ahead, shut the door and read it. I won’t tell anyone.
“Bedecked” by Victoria Redel (from her book of poems, Swoon)
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
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 once that brave.