poetry while in the skin
We’re in Fort Smith today, and everything outside is acting like Spring. You think I’m moody? Well, take a look at Arkansas. One day we have icicle daggers being thrown at our heads, and the next day bluebirds are landing on our shoulders.
Earlier I was visiting with Seth’s amazing 88 year old grandma, and she talked about how much she would read to her children and how when they were small, they would listen to her for hours. I fingered through a stack of books she brought to read to the boys. She smiled as I lifted one book, obviously well-used with dated orange, blue, and black illustrations.
She lives in a retirement village and in her alone time there has gone back through the entire book with small scratches of paper to mark all the stories and poems she remembers reading to her own three boys. I stopped at a poem called, “My Shadow” by Robert Louis Stevenson and asked if she remembered it.
Word for word she quoted:
I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see […]
On and on she went, and I realized how much precious time she had spent to recite a random poem in a book that she hadn’t read aloud in over 50 years. I realized how powerful can be a rhyme and how it has endured past the life of her first-born.
It makes me want to flip the breaker, light a lamp, and read until I’ve carved a river of memory, full of words and rhythm, something to hold on to, like a good hymn, when the tangibles in this skin-and-bones life start to drift away.