Poem: “Daughters 1900” by Marilyn Nelson

2 Posted by - August 20, 2020 - BLACK WOMEN, History, LATEST POSTS

Marilyn Nelson is an American poet, translator, and children’s book author. She is a professor emeritus at the University of Connecticut and the former poet laureate of Connecticut.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, into a military family, Marilyn Nelson is a three-time finalist for the National Book Award and an accomplished poet, children’s verse author, and translator. She has won two Pushcart Prizes, two Yaddo residencies, fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, and the 2012 Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America.

In 2001 Nelson published Carver: A Life in Poems, which received numerous nominations and awards, including the Flora Stieglitz Straus Award, the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award, and designation as both a Newbery Honor Book and a Coretta Scott King Honor Book.



Daughters 1900

By Marilyn Nelson
Five daughters, in the slant light on the porch,
are bickering. The eldest has come home
with new truths she can hardly wait to teach.
She lectures them: the younger daughters search
the sky, elbow each other’s ribs, and groan.
Five daughters, in the slant light on the porch
and blue-sprigged dresses, like a stand of birch
saplings whose leaves are going yellow-brown
with new truths. They can hardly wait to teach,
themselves, to be called “Ma’am,” to march
high-heeled across the hanging bridge to town.
Five daughters. In the slant light on the porch
Pomp lowers his paper for a while, to watch
the beauties he’s begotten with his Ann:
these new truths they can hardly wait to teach.
The eldest sniffs, “A lady doesn’t scratch.”
The third snorts back, “Knock, knock: nobody home.”
The fourth concedes, “Well, maybe not in church . . . “
Five daughters in the slant light on the porch.

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