After Reading 'Mickey in the Night Kitchen' for the Third Time Before Bed

Dove, Rita

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Wear, Delese
  • Date of entry: Nov-22-1996


This poem is a very natural, very private mother-daughter moment that celebrates the female body. A light-spirited let's-name-body-parts moment has emerged on the bed as "My daughter spreads her legs / to find her vagina." What follows is part spontaneous, light-spirited comparison between the daughter's body and her mother's ("She demands / to see mine"), and a reminder that this "is what a stranger cannot touch / without her yelling."


There's much going on in this poem: the complicated, biologically determined mother-daughter relationship; part of the genesis of body image; how some families do "sex education"; the vulnerability of the female body that teaches women to move about the world in very different ways from men. This poem is marvelous to use in sequences of mother-daughter relationships across the lifespan, especially when roles are reversed and daughters become caregivers for aging mothers.

Primary Source

Grace Notes


W. W. Norton

Place Published

New York