Poetically Yours - Ep. 10 - Rockford Poet Has A Message For Little Girls

Oct 9, 2020

Welcome to WNIJ's Poetically Yours. Poetically Yours showcases poems by northern Illinois poets. Today's poem is by Jennifer Rea.

Jennifer Rea.
Credit Photo provided by Jennifer Rea.

She is an assistant professor of English at Rockford University. She loves Irish and Japanese literature. Her love of  these two island nations is wrapped up in her childhood on the shores of Lake Michigan and family trips to the Manitou and Mackinac Islands. For some inexplicable reason she fell in love with islands. At Rockford University she teaches classes in English, rhetoric and creative writing. She also helps edit Fingerprints: Rockford University’s Literary Arts Magazine and oversees the Colleen Holmbeck Poetry Prize.

Her degree path was curvaceous. She received her undergraduate degree in English at Michigan State University, her second undergraduate degree in art history at Stony Brook University on Long Island, and her master’s degree in history and doctorate in English at Southern Illinois University Carbondale in the Irish and Irish Immigration Studies program.

Besides her academic work she is married with one teenage daughter, two cats, watches Japanese anime, plays tennis, knits, loves video games, cooking and baking bread, and is a museum addict which started when she lived on Long Island and became a fangirl of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Here's her poem "The Language of Philosophers Is Enough."

In a dark paneled room

a young girl

lingers in a patterned chair.

Her pale hands cleverly picking

at a small thread

unwinding a bird.

Her dark and lush hair cascades

over her slim shoulders.

She waits for all that is to be found

within her endless fantasies.

Searching for the dragons that bequeath

their luxurious eyes to her nighttime slumber.

Following fairies through meadows of scented

mauve and cerulean flowers.

Befriending the forlorn girl

inside the castle

inside the museum

inside the book.

There is just one life for each of us, little girl, our own.

Do not redouble your effort when you have forgotten your aim.

Do not weep and do not wax indignant.

Understand little girl.

That to be a little girl or not to be is the question

and the answer is to romp and play.

The Language of Philosophers is enough.

You are resting in your patterned chair,

for the first light of the new day.

Where cats,

and dogs,

and wild things,

and fairies

and princesses

and boys

will come and meet you before the castle ramparts

to climb ivy shrouded walls,

to dance in the heavy sea air,  

to gallivant on bare feet through verdant gardens.

And still you are

Befriending the forlorn girl

inside the castle

inside the museum

inside the book.

Persevere. Little girl.

For you will find your way

Though the path be long and curvy

And remember too that the unexamined life

Is not worth living even if it is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.

And if God did not exist, you would just have to invent her anyway.

So live life backwards, to understand it forward.

And recognize that happiness is by far the highest good

Especially when young girls are the measure of all things.

Endure. Little girl.

And leave the brocade alone.

  • Yvonne Boose is a 2020 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at wnij.org.