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“I tore myself out of my own mother’s womb.

There was no other way to arrive in this world.

A terrified midwife named me Monster

And left me in the pine woods with only the moon.

My mother’s blood dripped from my treed head.


In a dream my mother came to me and said

If I was to survive

I must find joy within my own wild self.


A woman found me and took me to her mountain home

high at the end of an abandoned logging road.

We spent long winter evenings by the fire;

I sat at the hearth as she read aloud myths of the Greeks

while the woodstove roared behind me.

She sometimes paused to watch the wall of shadows

cast by my antlers. The shadows danced

across the entire room like an oak’s wind-shaken branches.


The woman was worried when I would not wear dresses.

I walked naked through the woods.

She hung the wash from my head

on hot summer days when I sat in the sun to read.

The woman grew worried when I would not shed

my crown with the seasons as the whitetails did.

“But I am not a whitetail,” I said.


When I became a woman

in the summer of my fifteenth year,

I found myself

suddenly changed in the mirror.

My many-pronged crown had grown

into a wildness all its own;

highly stylized, the bright

anarchic antlers were majestic to my eye.

The woman saw me and smiled. “What you are I cannot say,

but nature has created you.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made.”


When night came it brought a full moon.

I walked through the woods to the lake

and knelt in the cool grass on its bank.

I saw my reflection on the water,

I touched my face.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made.”

-“The Girl with Antlers” by Ansel Elkins

As someone who isn’t a huge fan of poetry, I was surprised how much I enjoyed reading this poem. The haunting imagery (“solitude’s blue woods”, “my treed head”, “bright anarchic antlers”) and just how surreal the narrative is in general made me really feel for the girl and her struggle–I wanted to hear more of her strange story. The final line “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.” evokes a feeling of triumph that our main character has managed to reach a certain level of self-acceptance. If you have ever faced ridicule for your appearance, or ever struggled with feelings of inadequacy or difference, you will definitely be able to connect with the girl on a personal level.


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