The Middle Daughter

29 October 2010

via theSteward

If you threw her in the water
she would float upstream.
What if baby Moses had floated upstream,
bobbing toward Lake Victoria in his bullrush boat,
passing the transfixed laundry women,
leaving them behind in a wake of amazement?
What would have become of the children of Israel?
The middle daughter forgets,
there is always history.

Show her white, she sees black.
The problem is her vision.
From infancy she has thrown off
every color we wrapped her in:
first the pink, contemptuous,
and later even the blue, for reasons
we hadn’t the nerve to be thankful for.
She wants to wear red, or nothing.
And you should see her with her red shirt
flapping on her spindle body
like some solo flag,
marching up the river,
leading the salmon to slaughter.
She says they aren’t really dying.
She says something is born of swimming upstream
that finds its way back to the sea
and spreads like a grassfire through the seaweed
across the floor of underwater continents
and finally comes back to the very same river,
not one, but a thousand fish,
a generation of fish.
This middle daughter believes
she will make history.

–Barbara Kingsolver

P.S. Read up on other Friday poems here.
P.P.S. I am a middle daughter :)

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