Girl by Grant Clauser

Alien Baby by Sally Arango Renata


                                                            A flock of turkeys fight
                                                            over tossed corn outside the hospital window.
                                                            Early morning stars glide
                                                            like music across violet going to gray.

                                                            A hundred times, a thousand times,
                                                            we count the fingers, a thousand fingers,
                                                            ten thousand, grip my heart.
                                                            Her skin has more colors than morning.

                                                            The turkeys are wild and violent.
                                                            Dogs scatter them at noon.
                                                            The moon brings them back
                                                            to the clearing by evening.

                                                            My new daughter should glow
                                                            from years of stored-up love.
                                                            I can’t hold her close enough.
                                                            A hot coal simmers in my gut.

                                                           Grant Clauser

                                                                            *     *     *     *     *     *
                                                                          Review by Rosa Nagle
This poem is a beautiful example of the ability of the genre of poetry to be both universal and personal. “Girl” takes common, poetical themes, those of birth and life cycle, and finds a very singular voice to convey one person’s emotional experience to these events. “A hot coal simmers in my gut,” the last line of the poem, is an exquisite description of the universal “gut” feeling that we all share as first-time parents. At the same time, it expresses the rawness of emotion for one parent, and how deeply the poet feels a newfound love, deep within himself, “in my gut”.

Throughout the poem, we see this technique employed of combining universal and personal experiences. The first stanza opens with grand imagery surrounding the hospital setting: “Flock of turkeys”, “morning stars”, “music”, represent the subject of a baby girl’s birth. Line four, then, begins to pull the imagery toward the personal through the description of sky, “violet going to gray”, which very much describes the base colors of the umbilical cord.

Stanza two tempers the extremely personal joy of counting baby fingers and toes with the grand imagery of “morning”. Baby’s skin, at birth, is compared to the sky.

Stanza three adds life-cycle imagery. Turkeys that are wild and violent, a mimicry of human birth, are “scattered” at noon by dogs. The stanza moves into the evening, one whole day, with a vivid moon that ushers back the turkeys, or, brings them full-circle.

The last stanza is decidedly personal. Baby’s birth is introduced. She “glow”s, like the moon in the previous stanza. The closing stanza is a great juxtaposition to the first stanza. The poem opens with universal imagery, and ends with a declaration of love. It is a perfect example of the balance this poem achieves between universal and personal.

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