Poem found here: "Birds and Bees" by Faith ShearinMore about the Poet: Faith Shearin
I love the awkwardness of preparing for a tough conversation since most of the conversation plays out in the head -- the internal monologue where the monologue can be as dramatic and hyperbolic as possible, but this internal struggle comes from an awkward question, "When my daughter starts asking I realize / I don't know which, if any, birds / have penises." Ducks do by the way.
But that's not the point. The question is the trigger -- the talk, the birds and the bees, literally here needs to be prepared for, " I can't picture how swans / do it. I"m even confused about bees: that fat queen and her neurotic workers." Note, how the speaker is thinking literally about using the idomatic animals as metaphors to discuss about sex in which the metaphors spirals out of the control, "I'm worried / by turtles and snakes: their parts hidden in places I have never seen." The structure of the poem with the colons interest me at this point as though the separation needs to put in place between the worry and the neurosis of the speaker and the actual metaphorical animals.
Then the poem transfers perspective solely to the speaker's past:
[...] Long ago, awash in collge
boyfriends, I knew a little about sex.
I understood the dances and calls,
the pretty plumage. Now, I am as ignorant
as a child.
My favorite part about this is the "Now," It's not like the speaker doesn't know about sex, but she's placing herself as her child's time frame, the time before she knew "ignorant as a child." And the irony behind it is that she is now "ignorant as a child" on how to deal with the situation of sex -- how to destroy the plumage and find "places I have never seen."
So where does one start? "We have gone o the library / to find books though I know sex / is too wild for words." Words are permanent, talking isn't. An photograph is permanent, an image is not. You know what else is fleeting, "The desire to be / kissed is the desire to live forever / in the mouth of pleasure." Here is the hyperbole -- talking about sex leads to a life of wanting sex. Is it though? Okay maybe yes, but it's the definition behind it. The daughter defined as a sexual being and nothing more beyond that at this moment, "My God / I can never tell my daughter the truth."
The last two stanzas utilize the same colon structure used previously, so note the colon serves as separation between the metaphor and reality.
Reality: "[The truth] is a secret / the way babies are a secret"
Metaphor: "hidden / by skin or egg, their bodies made of darkness"
Now it's a bit much, isn't it? Once in indulgence, always in indulgence. But this is the humor behind the poem. It's not like the speaker doesn't want her child to grow up, but it's that the speaker is having a hard time seeing their child grow up -- to want, to desire, to have sex, to be more than just a child.