The Practice of Creativity

National Poetry Month: Featured Writer-Michele Tracy Berger

Posted on: April 29, 2013

I can’t believe we’re almost at the end of April and of National Poetry Month! I thought I’d take today to share one of my poems.


Jackie’s Feathers of 1982

Furnace red feather earrings
Twirl at the end of Jackie’s ears
Our eyes travel the shape of her
but miss the incandescent core

Me, lost in the storm of girlhood
Jackie, directing her hormonal lava
She dared to wear canary colored feathers in her hair
Iridescent plumes clipped to jeans

She was curious about her girl slink, funk and body trembles
Inside out she lived, as if her vulva slid across the floor, ahead of her
Boys wanted to possess and discard
Girls melted into the secretions of their own bodies
hunting for wisdom
finding Avon tips and Ultra Slimfast instea
Ticking time bombs, they surfaced
crippled, inchoate and mean

What secret relationship do women have with feathers?
In fanciful boas and gravity-defying rippling headdresses
Who gave us these poor imitations of grand flight?
And, told us to look the other way while men got bombs, politics and Viagra?

Years later
behind my building
I found one of her earrings
Teardrop shape, a blue and carnelian frayed feather kissed with gold leaf
I thought Jackie’s feathers could protect her
As love and attention should protects us all

Did her boyfriend entice her to the roof that night?
Did he know what waited for her in the dark?
Does he see her shadow every time he reaches for a woman?

I heard it was ten boys
Who made her pay for
her mystery,
her curiosity,
for exciting them,
for not roller-skating with them
for having a big butt
for smiling,
for everything and nothing
They threw her off the roof
when done

I shall hold this earring
And remember
And grieve for our lost girlhoods

Author’s Reflection: This poem was written in 2012 for the ‘Vision and Voice’ event at the Joyful Jewel Gallery that I have described here. I walked into the store and saw the wonderful pairs of feather earrings by Marty Broda and a cascade of images (and memories of girls from my youth who wore feathers) came to me. I usually write poems about situations that anger and frustrate me and themes of girls’ and women’s sexuality (and the repression or thwarting of), tend to make it into my work. I envision this poem as part of a series of poems exploring girlhood in the 1980s.

Michele Tracy Berger is a professor, a blogger, a creativity expert and a pug-lover. She’s passionate about all of these ways of being in the world and plays with the order that she avidly pursues them. Her writing has appeared in The Chapel Hill News, Ms., The Feminist Wire, various zines, and Western North Carolina Woman.


4 Responses to "National Poetry Month: Featured Writer-Michele Tracy Berger"

Very powerful, Michele.

Thanks, Kelly! I appreciate you stopping by.

Love the line about missing the “incandescent core”–so much we miss about each other. Powerful poem to finish out the month.

Hi Deborah,
Thanks! I have one more poem by someone else for tomorrow–the month has flown by.

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Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

Author, Academic, Creativity Expert I'm an award winning writer.

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