For Eleanor, 
April 18, 2012


I am not
a poet.
Words do not drip
from my lips
like shining 
of dew.

I am not a poet,
and the words that shape
my days and works of hands

A noun denotes a person, place or thing:
Home, husband, child, bottle, cradle, sling.

A verb describes an action or a state:
To care, to bear, to nurse, to hold, to love.

Subject verb agreement—the root of grammar, 
The core of a deep-felt life, words matched to deed.

No.  I am not a poet
and images do not dance
in my mind like Pegasus
on a starry night.

But the future does take on a dancing form
when I see my daughter growing, learning, warm.

And language matters, crystallizes, sings,
as I begin to learn my mother tongue.

And while I am not a poet
I know the value of words
imprinted on tongue and mind and heart.

But the most precious word
is one that I have not yet heard,
shaped by tiny lips,
a small voice
soon now
almost any day
the word Eleanor has yet to say:


© Denell Downum

“A gender-equal society would be one where the word ‘gender’ does not exist: where everyone can be themselves.”*

I’ve always been aware of gender conditioning and actively tried to combat any lingering prejudices or stereotypes in my own parenting, even down to encouraging dolls with my boys when they were little. It’s great to read people writing about gender issues they’re experiencing with their kids. For too long these subjects have been discouraged or silenced. I’d love to publish some more creative writing on this topic, especially if you are struggling with a child who actively tries to move away from gender normative preferences. A society where everyone can be themselves thanks Gloria for those aspirational words.

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* Gloria Steinem