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The Month of June: 13 1/2

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As our daughter approaches graduation and   
puberty at the same time, at her
own, calm, deliberate, serious rate,
she begins to kick up her heels, jazz out her   
hands, thrust out her hipbones, chant
I’m great! I’m great! She feels 8th grade coming   
open around her, a chrysalis cracking and   
letting her out, it falls behind her and   
joins the other husks on the ground,
7th grade, 6th grade, the
magenta rind of 5th grade, the
hard jacket of 4th when she had so much pain,   
3rd grade, 2nd, the dim cocoon of
1st grade back there somewhere on the path, and   
kindergarten like a strip of thumb-suck blanket
taken from the actual blanket they wrapped her in at birth.   
The whole school is coming off her shoulders like a   
cloak unclasped, and she dances forth in her   
jerky sexy child’s joke dance of
self, self, her throat tight and a
hard new song coming out of it, while her   
two dark eyes shine
above her body like a good mother and a   
good father who look down and
love everything their baby does, the way she   
lives their love.

Sharon Olds, “The Month of June: 13 1/2” from Strike Sparks: Selected Poems 1980-2002. Copyright © 2004 by Sharon Olds. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved.
Source: Strike Sparks: Selected Poems, 1982-2002 (Alfred A. Knopf, 2004)

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This poem originally appeared in the September 1983 issue of Poetry magazine

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The Month of June: 13 1/2

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