Day 29 poem-a-day challenge’s prompt for the penultimate day: “In certain versions of the classic fairytale Sleeping Beauty, various fairies or witches are invited to a princess’s christening, and bring her gifts. One fairy/witch, however, is not invited, and in revenge for the insult, lays a curse on the princess. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem in which you muse on the gifts you received at birth . . . as well as a ‘curse’ you’ve lived with (your grandmother’s insistence on giving you a new and completely creepy porcelain doll for every birthday, a bad singing voice, etc.). I hope you find this to be an inspiring avenue for poetic and self-exploration.”  My poem begins with the scent of marigolds as I plant my garden.

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Gifts at Birth

Pungent marigold scent rises from the roots I untangle,

transports me to my mother’s garden—a blessing

I was born with, or so it seems, a love of nature,

flowers, and fingers in the dark, dank dirt.

Going back to the day of birth, I was born under the

sun sign of Capricorn and inherited the climbing

nature of a goat, the goat with a fish tail, also

took me to watery parts of the land—larger bodies

of water from the Great Lakes to the sea, and spent

childhood afternoons by a mint-filled

brook in the meadow or a clear lake in the woods.

Other gifts: a thick bunch of black, frizzy hair

and an insatiable curiosity, a need to be in the

center of things, since before I was vocal!

I climbed from the crib and toddled into the

living room with grown ups—a blessing—

love of the night!

Mercury, Mars, and Jupiter also in the sign of

Capricorn the night I was born, so I’m bound to

butt my way through obstacles and climb!

Rooted in the earth, a blessing and a curse—

I wish sometimes I could be like fire and flare up

or air and dragonfly-like flit from here to there—

enough water from my fishtailed goat to

keep me floating and all of this I was given

at birth. The need to climb the mountain,

step by step, is a blessing the fates gave me.

Sometimes when I’m tired like day twenty-nine of

the poem a day challenge, I ask myself, couldn’t

I have been born an air sign and flitted

on to the next thing?

                        Jacquelyn Markham 4/29/2022