That Little Girl

A woman about my age who grew up in my hometown got chosen to be the Democratic nominee for vice president of the United States of America this week.

Kamala Harris wasn’t my top choice for vice presidential candidate (though now I think she was a brilliant choice). So I didn’t expect to be so powerfully impacted when she was chosen, but I was. Especially when I saw this photo:

KamalaHarrisPigtails_S

Kamala Harris

I’ve learned that when I feel like I did, it’s a good idea to write a poem. Here’s what I wrote:

That Little Girl Is Me

her mixed
is not the same as my mixed
but I know
not being what
is considered mainstream
and I know
a family history
that’s a story of immigration
and I know
growing up
in Berkeley, California
in the 1960s and 70s
 
I see
that pigtailed girl
and she looks like girls
in my world
in my America
I remember
being a little girl
with pigtails—
a hairstyle for girls
who enjoy their flowing locks
but sometimes
want to tie them back
when they’re
ready to run

© Karin Fisher-Golton, 2020

You may recognize that the poem’s title was inspired by Harris’s words “that little girl was me” from the first round of Democratic primary presidential debates in June 2019. She was calling Biden out for opposing busing to desegregate schools, a policy that brought Harris to a school I didn’t attend, but is not far from where I grew up—a school I still drive by and park next to often, and a place with a playground where my son played and learned to ride a bike. Although those words were against Biden, now they make me all the more positive about him and their partnership. It takes strength to partner with someone who has called you out publicly, and, in 2020, that is most true when a man has been called out by a woman. I respect Biden’s willingness to wholeheartedly make that choice.

I know that many people are deeply moved by Kamala Harris’s candidacy. And I’m guessing I’m not the only person who wrote a poem or might write a poem with some allusion to “that little girl was me” this week. If you know of any such poems or are inspired to write one, please let me know in the comments.

poetry friday

For more poems this Poetry Friday, visit https://nixthecomfortzone.com/2020/08/13/poetry-friday-is-here-2/—not only for poetry links, but also a post with two excellent poems where you can learn about a poetry form called a monotetra. I hope to try one soon. Thank you, Molly Hogan of Nix the Comfort Zone blog!

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28 Responses to That Little Girl

  1. Beautiful poem. Like you, Kamala wasn’t my first choice early on. Now that I’ve gotten to know her better and Biden selected her, I realize that she is the perfect choice!

  2. I am thrilled that she is running and that they seem to have a mutual respect for each other. She brings so much interest and energy to the campaign, and much much more. Loved your poem and I agree there must be many out there celebrating her.

  3. Yael Golton says:

    Very nice poem.
    You should send it to Kamala Harris.

  4. mbhmaine says:

    I loved your poem, especially that ending, but most of all, I love that you wrote, “I’ve learned that when I feel like I did, it’s a good idea to write a poem. ” That’s the idea/connection I so hope to nourish in my incoming writers this year!

  5. LINDA MITCHELL says:

    I am moved as well. Thank you for putting your emotions into poetry. I’m happy for you, for the poem for those ready to run!

  6. katswhiskers says:

    What a wonderful poem. I love your fitting finale; a perfect encapsulation of then and now. (And how special, to have all these connections.)

  7. Karin, your poem delivers soft reminders of migration, explanation and ultimately inspiration. You have tapped into a moment in the political world of your nation and delivered a message for now. I personally think Kamala is an inspired choice and I wish her well in an election that has the attention of the world.

  8. lindabaie says:

    It is so important to see self in public, in books & poetry. I hope that this year with new books, new women of various backgrounds running or have already been in elected office will boost kids (& adults) even more, able to say “That Little Girl is Me”. Lovely, heartfelt poem.

  9. cvarsalona says:

    Karin, good to see you at PF and good to know that Kampala’s words inspired a poem. I am hoping that many little girls will be prompted to write one also. It is a powerful moment in history for the US. Harris brings a new dimension to politics and I hope many recognize that not just because she is a woman but for her political savvy.

  10. Arlene Dayboch says:

    I am white
    I grew up with girls who looked like me and many who did not
    A melting pot
    That’s how a teacher described our country to me
    I thought that was how we were suppose to be
    Some times there was trouble
    Hey we don’t live in a bubble
    I’ve learned as I grew that the Red White and Blue
    Is strong and loving and just and free
    But what happened to “we“
    We’ve become “us” and “them”
    And I don’t understand
    We must take a stand
    Please stand with me as I will with you
    Proud, straight and tall
    One nation, under G-d with liberty and justice for all

  11. Thanks for sharing this strong poem Karen, I can definitely relate to these lines,
    “but I know
    not being what
    is considered mainstream”
    I Iike the metaphors you used with her hair and connecting them with tying it back and being “ready to run.” Kamala is definitely ready to run and will work relentlessly for many underrepresented.

    • Thank you, Michelle! When I saw that photo the power of pigtails is what jumped out at me, so those metaphors were where the poem began. And I like that you can relate to those lines. They really resonate for me.

  12. Tabatha says:

    Nice ending! I was an Elizabeth Warren/Tammy Duckworth gal, so when I choked up when Harris was announced, it took me by surprise as well. I’m all in!

  13. This is lovely, Karin. The ending to your poem is so clever–love it! And loved learning more about you, too…

    • Thank you, Laura! Great to hear from you. My growth as a poet is connected to you because I am part of a wonderful longtime poetry group that came out of the nonfiction group I joined thanks to your class on writing for the education and library market.

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