Monday, April 16, 2012

How to read a poem


It's the middle of National Poetry Month, time to pause for a lesson. Believe it or not, my grandson is nearly three months old. He's a good teacher, and I should not keep his lessons to myself.

How to read a poem

Take him in your lap.
Look deep into his dark eyes.
Watch his arms while they
loop orbits in space
for no apparent purpose.
Let him ride his invisible
bicycle somewhere far—pumping,
pumping, pumping tiny legs,
making your thighs tremble.
See how still his eyes remain.
Fossick the meaning in his fists
where unknown words
are hidden and twirled.
(Don’t worry about the meaning
of those incomprehensible words now.
You can look for them later, together.)
He is telling you something
of where he has so recently been,
where you are desperately
trying to go in your perfectly
silent and heavy red chair.
He is showing you every truth
he has ever known
in a very small package.
When at last he smiles
in the otherwise motionless
residue following the flailings of his body,
you will understand what he means.

April 2012


Ginnie said...

Ohhhh, Ruth. This remionds me of what Bill always said whenever he saw a baby: "Everything he'll ever need is all right there."

I can hardly wait to see that precious baby boy!

Louise Gallagher said...

What perfection!

In him as seen through your eyes as written into your words returning to him seeing you...

How delightful.

Thanks for the smile and warm squishy feeling in my heart this morning! :)

Deb Colarossi said...

So wonderful Ruth. I won't try to add anything for he has said it all profoundly and perfectly and wisely.

Much love to you. And gratitude .

Gwen Buchanan said...

Oh Ruth, He is absolutely Beautiful... and Poetry of the highest degree.... and growing so fast...

I never saw time go so quickly as when I measure it with babies...

My youngest grandson is 1 yr.old the end of this month... the mystery and beauty never ends...

Kathleen said...

Exactly! Baby and poem.

hedgewitch said...

Lovely--I love that age, where they are speaking in bird language, and where they are non-stop inputting everything they see--what a sensory overload it must be after spending all that time in the quiet dark. "Fosick' is wonderful here, as well as that so adult heavy red chair.

rosaria williams said...

Ruth, this is trembling beauty!

Mark Kerstetter said...

You subverted my expectations in such a nice way. I had thought, 'Oh, Ruth is going to explicate in prose today!' First thing I see is a baby (such a beautiful baby) and think, 'What a great way to introduce the subject.'

On the content of the poem: I agree with it enthusiastically. This line gets the reader close:

'Fossick the meaning in his fists"

it sounds so good to my ear, and it's so true, the word "fossick" just right for us old folks bending over and catching something in our doddering way of the open, ongoing wonder of the universe. I could also think of this as "how to write a poem" - I love it.

ds said...

Just repeat to yourself what everyone else has written here, and that is my response. James is beautiful, "fossick"(!!) is wonderful--and so are you.

erin said...

ahhhh, jesus!

He is telling you something
of where he has so recently been,
where you are desperately
trying to go in your perfectly
silent and heavy red chair.

and! Fossick the meaning in his fists

are you even kidding me?!!! hallelujah, amen and pass the baby. i love this poem, ruth.))


Maureen said...

Wonderful poem. Every baby should have a poet in his or her life!

GailO said...

Oh I do have a love for those fair haired serious eyed babies!! Grandmotherly love is the best:)

Maureen was absolutely right when she said that every baby should have a poet for a grandmother...lucky baby James!

ksam said...

And then when he begins to sing to you...which for me is nothing more than poetry and music coming together! Oh the joy of that! Love this it!

musicwithinyou said...

Ohhh he takes after his grandma. I will remember his lesson well and just want to hold those tiny little hands.

Sandy said...

He is adorable - time flies so fast for us gramma's. I love your poem especially...

"He is telling you something
of where he has so recently been,
where you are desperately
trying to go in your perfectly
silent and heavy red chair."

Lesley Robinson said...

love this, mamma. and i love that photo, i didn't get to see all the photos you took over the weekend! and i love you, the most wonderful grammy.

Vagabonde said...

I caught up with your last 8 posts that I had not read (sorry I was kind of down and did not read many blogs the last couple of weeks.) Sweet James is growing up nicely – 3 months already! His coral trousers reflect in his sweet pink cheeks! Adorable. So wonderful too that you are so good at writing a lovely poem.

The Broad said...

You do get to the 'heart' of the matter, don't you?

Shari Sunday said...

Sweet moments you never forget. What a precious picture.

annell said...

Beautiful words about insight, inner gift.

Judy said...

You delighted me today! Thanks

rippleeffects said...

What a beauty! And I can tell he's a thinker. I love your poem, Ruth. The perspective is most wise... What a treasure you have!

Ruth said...

Boots, and I can't wait until he meets you and is held by you! He will be so changed by August.

Louise, thank you for sharing my warm squishy heart! :-)

Deb, much love and gratitude to you.

Gwen, your youngest grandson is one, oh dear! It's hard to let te babyness slip away.

Kathleen, thanks so much for sharing my poem at your blog.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Hedge, oh his language and smiles are uniquely his, and "bird language" is perfectly put. I hear that he had sensory overload yesterday, or something. It was a rough one. :(

Thank you, rosaria!

Mark, thanks a bunch. I'm glad you like that line Fossick the meaning in his fists. I did not know the word "fossick" before writing this poem!

ds, oh thank you, my friend. You are so kind and generous with me.

Ruth said...

erin, thank you my friend for the big smile.

Maureen, thank you, and the reverse is also true: every poet should have a baby in his or her life!

GailO, it's so fun watching our boys together, so close in age. Thank you.

Karin, how perfectly lovely that day will be. Thank you for the preview!

Ruth said...

musicwithinyou, thank you for reading. I wish you could hold his hands, they are so full of meaning. :-)

Thank you, Sandy, I've admired your grandchildren and your grandmothering so long.

Sweet Lesley, I'm glad you came by and read the poem about our poem. I hope he is more settled today!

Vagabonde, thank you for catching up, you are so faithful. My thoughts and love are with you.

Ruth said...

The Broad, I feel the world, yes. Thanks for reading.

Shari, hi! Thank you, and thanks for grandmothering so well.

Thanks, annell, it's good to see you.

Hi, Judy! Thank you!

Ruth said...

Arti, thank you for reading, and for sharing the beauty of our little boy.

JeannetteLS said...

I love him. I love the poem. I needed this poem and that picture tonight,

Margaret said...

invisible bicycle...

Oh this whole poem stole my heart. He is precious, and your words sing his praise so sweetly.