Recommended Reading from Maya Angelou

Probably by now, you’ve heard that Maya Angelou has a new memoir out, about herself and her mother. Sounds like a great Mother’s Day gift, right? Well, maybe it is. I haven’t read it. I do know Angelou has had a complicated relationship with her mother– but who doesn’t? I know I don’t usually mention books I haven’t read on this blog, but I am making an exception this time. First, because Angelou is incredible and anything she writes is worth reading, and second, because in this interview, she mentions the following poem, which I love and which I thought I’d share with you all today (I know, I know, it’s May, and therefore I should be “off” poetry, but the heart wants what it wants.). I hope you’ll click through to the HuffPo article, and I hope you enjoy this poem.

Portrait of a Girl with a Comic Book
by Phyllis McGinley

Thirteen’s no age at all. Thirteen is nothing.
It is not wit, or powder on the face,
Or Wednesday matinees, or misses’ clothing,
Or intellect, or grace,
Twelve has its tribal customs. But thirteen
Is neither boys in battered cars nor dolls,
Not Sara Crewe or movie magazine,
Or pennants on the walls.

Thirteen keeps diaries and tropical fish
(A month, at most); scorns jump-ropes in the spring;
Could not, would fortune grant it, name its wish;
Wants nothing, everything;
Has secrets from itself, friends it despises;
Admits none of the terrors it feels;
Owns half a hundred masks but no disguises;
And walks upon its heels.

Thirteen’s anomalous–not that, not this:Not folded bud, or wave that laps a shore,
Or moth proverbial from the chrysalis.
Is the one age defeats the metaphor.
Is not a town, like childhood, strongly walled
But easily surrounded; is no city.
Nor, quitted once, can it be quite recalled–
Not even with pity.


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