Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence




Judith Ortiz Cofer

to my daughter

When I hug you tight at bedtime,
you wince in pain for the tender
swelling of new breasts.
Nothing is said, both of us aware
of the convenant of silence
we must maintain through the rending
apart that is adolescence. But it won't always
be confusion and hurting, the body
will find itself through this pain;
remember Michelangelo, who believed
that in marble, form already exists,
the artist’s hands simply pulling it out
into the world. I want to tell you about men:
the pleasure of a lover's hands on skin
you think may rip at elbows and knees
stretching over a frame like clothes
you've almost outgrown; of the moment
when a woman first feels a baby's mouth at her breast, opening her
like the hand of God in Genesis, the moment
when all that led to this seems right. Instead I say, sweet dreams,
for the secrets hidden under the blanket like a forbidden book
I'm not supposed to know you've read.

Prairie Schooner, Vol. 61, No. 2 (Summer 1987), p. 64


Author Photo of Melissa Cooperman

Melissa Cooperman

Judith Ortiz Cofer is the author of If I Could Fly (2011), a novel; the children’s books Animal Jamboree: Latino Folktales (2012), The Poet Upstairs (2012), and ¡A Bailar! (2011); Call Me Maria (2006), a young adult novel; A Love Story Beginning in Spanish: Poems (2005); The Meaning of Consuelo (2003), a novel; Woman in Front of the Sun: On Becoming a Writer (2000), a collection of essays; An Island Like You: Stories of the Barrio (1995), a collection of short stories; The Line of the Sun (1989), a novel; Silent Dancing (1990), a collection of essays and poetry; two books of poetry, Terms of Survival (1987) and Reaching for the Mainland (1987); and The Latin Deli: Prose and Poetry (1993). Her work has appeared in The Georgia Review, Kenyon Review, Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, Glamour, and other journals. Her work has been included in numerous textbooks and anthologies including, Best American Essays 1991, The Norton Book of Women's Lives, The Norton Introduction to Literature, The Norton Introduction to Poetry, The Heath Anthology of American Literature, The Pushcart Prize, and the O. Henry Prize Stories.

In 2010 she was inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame.

Judith Ortiz Cofer is currently the Regents' and Franklin Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Georgia.