Saturday, April 16, 2016

Poetry Month & A Poem

April is National Poetry Month. I have been receiving a poem a day with Garrison Keillor's A Writer's Almanac for years, plus this year I am receiving the Knopf Poem a Day. I have written about poetry over the years:

101 Famous Poems
Emily Dickinson
Stephen Crane
Robert Hillyer
Edgar Allen Poe
Rainer Maria Rilke
Thomas Hardy
Anne Sexton
Ezra Pound

And in 2015 the entirety of A Year With the Fairies by Anna O. Scott!

Today I want to share a poem I wrote, well, many years ago. It is based on one of my first memories.

"In the beginning was the word"
Nancy A. Bekofske

two figures seated at a kitchen table
lost in the glare of unfiltered sunlight.
Shadow players, male and female,
each with lighted cigarettes streaming blue smoke.
White light, white walls, and shadows moving
and talk about grown-up things while
                                                        I played, pushing
                                     some wheeled toy across the floor
                                             into my parent's dark bedroom,
                  into the nursery with its barred bed now forgotten,
                                          down the narrow uncarpeted hallway,
           into the slatted venetian-blind light of the living room 
                                 the radio standing on the floor playing
                            "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White"
          or was it "The Poor People of Paris," I've forgotten,
                                                   back into the kitchen

where they sat, talking still, pushing papers about,
some business, I suppose, when I heard a name,
a word never before spoken for all I knew,
and I longed to make its magnetic beauty mine:
                                        I stopped my play and mouthed that word
                                                    like a sacred prayer recited in private,
                                                             savoring it on the tongue, my ears
                                                                          ringing with pure response,
                              that one word opening my mind to majestic possibilities.

"What did you say, hon?" Bending down, indulgent,
the man asked, and my mother, embarrassed
urged me to repeat myself, so they could understand.

                                                       I knew they would never understand
                                       the magic of that moment, even at, say, three;
                               I could not utter that word, it would have been
                        a misuse, like swearing with the Deity's name.

They returned to their conversation, dismissing me,
a child, as having done a child-like thing
of great amusement to the wisdom of age.

                                                           Only I knew the worth of the word,
                                              a sound so potent it could stop adult speech
                                                                        and demand their attention
                                                                                      to listen to a child
                                                                                 who had just learned

                                                                   the power of a beautiful word.

No comments:

Post a Comment