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When Walt Whitman Was a Little Girl

When Walt Whitman Was a Little Girl

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Published by michael biegner
Some prose with a tongue-in-cheek look at one of my favorite poets.
Some prose with a tongue-in-cheek look at one of my favorite poets.

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Published by: michael biegner on Feb 19, 2007
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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12/21/2012

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When Walt Whitman Was A Little Girl
When Walt Whitman was a little girl, she’d never let the ordinariness of things box her in. She operated on an atomic level and all things weremarvelous. Her heart was a telescope capable of seeing things faraway or infinitely close up. Things others never had time or desire tosee. She sat on her swing for hours making up songs for hours on enduntil one day, Walt’s mama called out to her, “Walt! Walt, honey, whatis that song you are singing?” To which Walt replied, “Why mama, thisis just the song of myself. The song my heart makes with every beat. The one that sings when no one is looking at me.” Sometimes Waltwould head up to Huntington Bay and sit amid the tall slender grassand she would use her pocketknife to cut away some of the tallerblades. Then she would run home all the way shouting, “Mama! Mama!Come see the leaves of grass I got!” and together they would sit andpretend to read poetry from the fronds of grass. Poetry, Walt insisted,which was sent by the universe to Walt. She sat day after day, aloneand in among the hushing winds until her father, a gruff alcoholic massof a man with vision that ended at the end of his drinking arm, wouldchastise her. He wanted to know why she liked to be alone so muchand didn’t she have any friends, and didn’t she ever get lonely? Waltshrugged her shoulders and smiled. She knew it was her destiny towrite and that writers were always just a little bit lonely and that it wasokay. When her Daddy died, Walt barely even blinked it just was suchinsignificant motion in the seismic scale of her growing up.She went to school and eventually moved to Brooklyn where shebecame known as a child who would strike up a conversation withanyone. She celebrated qualities that were so different from hers: shesought out vagrants and bums down on their luck, or debutantes intheir latest fashions or working men, grimy from their days of labor. Onhot summer days, Walt would go to the wharfs and watch the sailorsreadying ships bound for exotic and far off places. She loved to watchthe large sun bronzed backs of the sailors sweating in the sea and landbreezes, alternation in and out, morning and evening. She secretlyhoped that one day she might marry one of these sailors because to bea sailor’s wife must be a glorious thing, she reasoned.So then the day finally arrived when Walt had to become a man. Hegrew a full beard, never having been taught the ways of men. It wassaid that he filled out softly, more like a woman than a man. Then there was that terrible war. That awful, terrible war which Waltcould never bring himself to call “Civil” – there was nothing civil aboutthis fighting that he could see. True to his temperament, he became anurse and started caring for the dying and wounded men; these men

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