Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Adolescence 1


In water-heavy nights behind grandmother's porch
We knelt in the tickling grasses and whispered:
Linda's face hung before us, pale as a pecan,
And it grew wise as she said:
        "A boy's lips are soft,
        As soft as baby's skin."
The air closed over her words.
A firefly whirred near my ear, and in the distance
I could hear streetlamps ping
Into miniature suns
Against a feathery sky.

In this poem, Rita Dove depicts a scene of a group young girls inquiring about a boy’s lips. Kneeling in their grandmother’s backyard, one of the girls named Linda shares with the others that she indeed felt a boy’s lips and they are “as soft as a baby’s skin”. Listening intently to her words, the other girls learn from Linda’s experience. The audience can feel how fascinated the other girls are in what Linda shares by Rita Dove’s explanation of the scene. The narrator claims, “A firefly whirred near my ear, and in the distance I could hear streetlamps ping into miniature suns against a feathery sky”. Just by comprehending these lines, the reader knows how intrigued the girls are to listen to Linda’s words.

This poem describes the innocent behavior of young girls toward young boys. The girls only talk about how soft a boy’s lips are, and the conversation does not go any further than that. We know most of the girls are inexperienced because they listen so closely to Linda’s description. Rita Dove successfully portrays the pure curiosity of young girls by simply illustrating the tame nature of the girls’ attitude toward boys. Their inquiry does not go past the physical nature of a boy’s lips. There is no desire or physical need beyond a harmless kiss.


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