And I am right on the potential a decent percentage of the time, which is enough to validate my reluctance to toss things out. An Ikea box becomes a big fish for a play prop. The box of leftover crayons will be given out at a Girl Scout activity night. When my workplace was done with handcrafted centerpieces for a party, I took five of them. They were then centerpieces for a Girl Scout dance and a drama club party. Much later they were torn apart for their components and became the decoration on a third grader’s Chinese dragon.
I know that I’m justifying, and not even that well. But I take some comfort from today’s poem from Carver: A Life in Poems, by Marilyn Nelson.
Chemistry 101Winner of both Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Honor Awards in 2002, Carver: A Life in Poems explains the life of an extraordinary man in an equally extraordinary way. The poems often include a footnote with the exact biographical information the names, dates, and places leaving the poems free to be more descriptive and lyrical. The poems follow Carver’s life span from the time he was recovered from a kidnapper as a baby to the last days of his life watching the Tuskegee Airmen take to the sky. Some poems are written from the point of view of different people along his path, including teachers, students, and friends. The result is a deeper view of the the man and of the times in which he lived. It’s an excellent book, and is especially perfect for Black History Month showing one man’s achievements, but not in the arena of slavery or civil rights.
A canvas apron over his street clothes,
Carver leads his chemistry class into
the college dump. The students follow, a claque
of ducklings hatched by hens. Where he
sees a retort, a Bunsen burner,
a mortar, zinc sulfate, they see
a broken bowl, a broken lantern,
a rusty old flatiron, a fruit jar top.
Their tangle of twine, his lace.
He turns, a six-inch length of copper tubing
in one hand. “Now, what can we do with this?”
Two by two, little lights go on.
One by hesitant one, dark hands are raised.
The waters of imagining, their element.
Today, school was cancelled on account of ice, so maybe I can tackle some of my own junk. But if I am unsuccessful, I can claim the spirit of Carver, “the waters of imagining” clearly being me in my element. Poetry Friday round-up is over at Big A, little a, and it looks like lots of weekend reading for all.