Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

Coming of Age


Coming of Age

Lynn Domina

Out of the rain, four girls slump
against a Fairlane's vinyl seats.

Each almost old enough
to make it legal, they list

a husband's unacceptable qualities:
hairy ears; holey undershirts;
beer cans brought to the supper table;

cussing at nothing or, worse,

admiring the sermon every possible Sunday.
Of course they describe their fathers.

Except for the one with her feet on
the dash who would rather wonder
about her mother's secrets,

her mother who says if you have to ask,
you're not old enough to know.

If you take your secrets

to the grave, they are raised

with you, incorruptible.

If you confess, you live

to regret it.

The girl's secret is that she has memorized
the book of Ruth, word for word,
that she can pronounce the strange names

and point to the places on her map
of the ancient world,

that a husband is not nearly so exciting

as a mother-in-law,

that each night after she prays 
as she's been taught, she chants

the name, Naomi, Naomi, Naomi.

Prairie Schooner, Vol. 74, No. 4 (Winter 2000), pp. 72-73


Author Photo of Lynn Domina

Sandra K. Jones

Lynn Domina is the author of two collections of poetry, Framed in Silence and Corporal Works, and the editor of a collection of essays, Poets on the Psalms. Her recent work appears in The Southern Review, The Gettysburg Review, The New England Review, and several other periodicals. She lives in the western Catskill region of New York.