Girlhood

By Jonathan Galassi b. 1949 Jonathan Galassi
If your bearded friend
helps you catch the trout   
barehanded
in the pool of the dream   
and you carry it in his pail   
barefoot
up the rocky stream
to the playhouse where he fries it in his pan;
if you snip the dill
for the carrots and then swim
until your lips are bluer than the lake
where will it take you?
Not anywhere as pure
and primal as these sunstruck days   
sistered by starstruck nights.   
Don’t cloud the drowning   
brightness of your eyes,
don’t answer my asking look   
with anything but the truth,   
don’t spill the fresh-picked   
raspberries on the car seat
and stain your shirt with indelible blood.

Or spill them, darling.   
How else will you know
the color of crushed time;
how else will you feel
what it is to change and remember,
to lose and absorb
this summer inside you,
xylem and phloem of your leafy future   
already starting to spread its shade above us?

Jonathan Galassi, “Girlhood” from North Street and Other Poems (New York: HarperCollins, 2001). Copyright © 2001 by Jonathan Galassi. Reprinted with the permission of the author.

Source: North Street and Other Poems (HarperCollins Publishers Inc, 20002001)

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Poet Jonathan Galassi b. 1949

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Living, Coming of Age, Youth

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Jonathan  Galassi

Biography

In addition to publishing two volumes of poetry, Morning Run (1998) and North Street (2000), Jonathan Galassi is an eminent translator of Italian poetry. He has spent over 25 years studying Eugenio Montale’s poetry and has published several collections of Montale’s work, including Eugenio Montale: The Second Life of Art: Selected Essays (1982) and Collected Poems 1920–1954 (1998). Reviewing Collected Poems for the New York . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Coming of Age, Youth

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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