Thursday, November 5, 2020

Baby Rhymes

Poetry came to my heart 
when I held my first newborn on my lap
and began to read her rhymes.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear,
What do you see?
I see a Red Bird
Looking at me.

She couldn't have understood 
the words but I felt her body fall still
and her breath go soft and smooth.

Catch me & Kiss me & Say it again
Set sail in a cockleshell boat. 
If no one fell out then who stayed in?
Catch me & Kiss me & Say it again!

She tuned in with her whole self, 
watching my face, listening, listening
as I sang the words to her. 

One berry, two berry, pick me a blueberry
Hatberry, shoeberry, in my canoeberry.
Under the bridge and over the dam,
Looking for berries, berries for jam.

Soon there were toddlers with me,
dancing and singing and laughing with joy, 
bodies alive with the beats.

Each peach, pear, plum
I spy Tom Thumb.
Tom Thumb in the cupboard,
I spy Mother Hubbard. 
Mother Hubbard in the cellar,
I spy Cinderella. 
Cinderella on the stairs,
I spy the Three Bears.

We read all kinds of stories.
Not every one featured rhythm and rhyme
but those we loved most of all.

Oh my goodness oh my dear
Sassafrass and ginger beer
Chocolate cake and apple punch
I’m too full to eat my lunch!

The poems filled my soul too,
settling into my memory so 
I could sing them all day long. 

See the piggy, see the puddle
See the muddy little puddle
See the piggy in the middle
of the muddy little puddle.
See her dawdle, see her diddle
In the muddy, muddy middle.
See her waddle, plump and little
In the very merry middle. 

In time, my daughters slowed down,
Again sitting still as I read to them
words rich in power and strength.

Kings in crimson, crowns all crystalline
Moving to the music of a single gong.
Watchers in the jungle, moist and mistalline,
Bibble-bubble-babbled to the bing-bang-bong!

Frost, cummings, Whitman, and Yeats:
my girls now read and write their own poems.
But baby rhymes still bring joy.

Goodnight stars
Goodnight air
Goodnight noises everywhere. 

* * * * *

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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