"DAUGHTER, HAVE I TOLD YOU?" by Rachel Coyne


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In an ode to women and Mother Earth, a mother addresses her daughter in a poem filled with images of nature as feminine. Choana's debut opens with a refrain of the title, answered with stanzas that begin, ""You are of woman . . ."" and continue with sentient metaphors, ""whose hands are the harvest./Whose hearts are/the deep, deep lake/and whose voices are/the silver birch of the woodland."" The poem is an awakening, whispered as a shared secret between mother and daughter. While some of its lofty images and abstract sentiments of womanhood may be lost on the picture-book audience, it does celebrate every girl's inner strength through her connectedness to ancestral earth, an archetypal woman-mother. The physical and metaphysical are entangled here; words are wildflowers, hair is thick as the prairie, lives are the earth underfoot. Halstead represents woman's direct relationship to nature with encircling arms, swirling waters, curling hair, heads bent in embrace, and strong-faced trees turned skyward. Amphibious hands and feet transport readers past the human into a realm where forms of women are the landscape--the stomach is a soft hill (and part of a reclining nude), the profile of a face is a mountainous skyline. Prismatic figures dance, bend, and radiate color, reflecting nature's bounty.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1998
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Henry Holt