Poetically Yours Ep. 30 - Rockford Poet Is Appeased As She Watches Her Daughter Draw

Feb 26, 2021

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

Rea 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 "Self Esteem Corpse."

 


I watch my pre-teen draw her dead dog

On white paper with black lines.

Her face is turned to the image

Hands cleverly outlining canine teeth.

She sits across the dining room table

Brow furrowed in concentration

Headphones connected to a listening device

Playing songs of lost love and human devastation

Instilling in her the idea

That she will have power in this world.

Mighty power that will flow from her veins

Through her soft white skin

Over her chest and shapely legs

And she will learn that this power

Is something that she can wield like Excalibur

brandished by the mighty King Arthur

When he realized his beloved Guinevere

Was hanging around the pub with Sir Lancelot.

This power pulsating from her soft beauty

Curly brown hair flowing over hazel long lashed eyes

She has learned from advertisements

And television shows with strong women wearing stilettos

Catering to the male gaze that establishes the definition

Of female as body.

As she sits drawing her dead dog

Struggling to get the ears just right

And the nose long enough without looking freakish

Singers echoing songs of female power serenade her

Wearing modern corsets over fish-net stockings

Backing themselves into male dancers

Proving the lie that female is anything other than body.

As I watch my pre-teen daughter draw her dead dog

Her lines forceful and straight

Proving her strength, intelligence, and drive

She glances up as my eyes meet hers

And lights upon the concern glistening

Through my nervous stare

Her soft lips, bitten in concentration

Part

And she gives me her impish grin

And goes back to work on the nose.

She is small but she will be fierce.

 

  • Yvonne Boose is a current 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.