Thursday, November 5, 2020

For Myself

"Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance." -Carl Sandburg

 A Michigan winter's morning.

A long walk to the bus stop.

Bundled against the cold, I trudge down the frozen lane past drifting snow.

Under the frosty fingers of trees that brush each other over my head, I am surrounded by the white woods. 

Little six-year-old me is caught unaware by this wild beauty, 

Much to my surprise, a poem suddenly jumps into my head. 

Well. The first line of a poem anyway: 

With an icicle for a spoon and a snowball for his bowl

I see him right there in the field, smiling as I walk by, preparing for his icy breakfast.

 I know he sees me too, and understands. My snowman is real to me. 

Morning after morning, as I pass along this same place on the way to school

The idea of this poem dances again and again in my mind, the snowman as real as ever

And I understand that some day very soon

I'm going to write out the fullness of this snowman's poem.

I'm excited to bring him to life.

Wondrously, just a few weeks later, my teacher asks us to write a poem.

Eagerly, I set down the words that flashed into my thoughts that morning in the lane.

With an icicle for a spoon and a snowball for his bowl

I find great joy in the telling.

Days pass. I wait excitedly to see my grade, to hear my teacher's praise for my poem.

Anticipation builds. I'm sure she will love it; I expect her validation.

Now she slowly makes her way along my row of desks, handing us back our work.

I reach up to take my poem from her outstretched arm and look at her red remarks.

She didn't like it.

I am stunned. Upset. Confused. Hurt, I was so sure my poem was a good poem.

Red-cheeked, I stuff the paper into my desk, and try to understand what this means.

Many years have passed since that day, but I still often think of my snowman poem.

Only today do I finally make sense of what happened.

My teacher thought I wrote that poem to satisfy her assignment.

But really, I wrote it for myself. 

* * * * *

A poet named Mary Jane, who is also my friend, invited me to write 
a poem a day for eight days in a row. Here I go!

And one more for good measure:

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