Let’s Talk Poetry: Room to Grow

August 25, 2013

Neil Carpathios

Contributing Columnist

I am considered a giant in my family. At 5’8, I tower over my mother and sister, and I am about eye to eye with my brother. My father was around 5’6. Everything is relative, and height was not in the genes, I suppose. Greeks tend to be on the short side—but we do have lots of hair!

I don’t normally ponder my vertically challenged stature (and rationalize it by bragging about body fur), but recently I received a letter and poem from a reader all the way in Virginia, which got my wheels turning.

Lauren Young grew up and still lives in Virginia Beach. She studied creative writing in college and graduate school, but now is a technical writer by profession. She continues to write creatively and describes herself as a businesswoman, daughter, friend, and poet with an optimistic and crazy sense of humor.

About her poem, below, she writes: “Let’s just say my life inspired the poem. I am six feet tall and not exactly model thin. Being tall is a challenge sometimes. I’m not one of those women who wish to be shorter, or bemoan the quality of life that accompanies being tall. I remember as a little girl walking my neighborhood, dribbling a basketball, wishing that one day I could be six feet tall. So, here I am; and thank God for making me this tall. It’s fun to be different!”

There’s Always Room to Grow

I don’t need to grow

anymore horizontal—

the backs of my thighs

populated by millions of tiny caves,

from licking one too many spoons.

I don’t want to squeeze my butt

into the cotton panties of the permanent wedgie,

the big grandmother shirts,

the hip hiding skirts,

bigger bras and larger cups.

I don’t want to be any taller, either.

It’s hard enough to find shoes

that fit, shirts that go past my navel,

or skirts that don’t scream mini.

My bed is too short,

my arms are too long for those cute jackets,

my neck too long for v-necks,

my body too high for the smart car or

anything economy sized.

Heels make me taller

than my father, and

men too short to reach up

behind my neck to pull my

head down for a kiss.

It’s refreshing to encounter a person and poet with the ability to poke fun at herself in an entertaining, witty way. Sometimes poetry can reek of self-importance. Lauren Young shows us that one’s body image—and poetry—can be the fuel for levity, humanness, and a more important type of self-accepting growth. I guess being 5’8 and hairy is not so bad after all (thanks Mom and thanks Dad for these priceless genes—and thanks, Lauren Young, for reminding me).

Address poem submissions and correspondence to: ncarpathios@shawnee.edu or Neil Carpathios, Shawnee State University, Dept. of English & Humanities, 940 Second Street, Portsmouth, OH 45662. (740-351-3478).