This was Billy Collins’ choice in Poems That Make Grown Men Cry, and I thought it was fantastic. I really love Redel’s anger and the acceptance she has for her son. Allowing a girl to grow up a tomboy may be acceptable now, but turning the tables on that does take some courage.
by Victoria Redel
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 to him,
and I’m right for the days he wears a pink shirt on the seesaw in
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 everywhere
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