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Butter fly…

March 8, 2010

The point of diving in a lake is not immediately to swim to the shore,

but to be in the lake…

You do not work the lake out…

It is an experience beyond thought…

— John Keats to Fannie Brawne, in Bright Star…

People ask me,

How did you start to write poetry???

I don’t really know,

except that when I chose to begin forgetting,

everything that I had been told about poetry,

and its rules,

or rather the academic rules,

and analysis,

that has been imposed on poetry,

and I set about dissolving,

creative blocks,

one by one,

it was like,

the flood gates,

opened up,

and the flow,

just couldn’t be stopped…

When I was in elementary school I lived in a crisis of confidence,

and perfection…

This continued on until I was thirty-eight and a half,

and I was well on my way down the road of deconstruction,

and individuation…

If poetry does not come as easily as leaves to a tree,

then it had better not come at all…

— John Keats in Bright Star

From the first year that I became a teacher,

in a professional sense,

I knew when I met students who were just like me…

And year after year,

I told parents,

about their six year old boys,

I know him like the back of my hand…

As a teacher I struggled with giving feedback,

especially about visual creations…

We started every morning with drawing,

or building,

so that everyone had time to settle in and work on their own projects,


and sync up…

One very little boy arrived in Kindergarten reading fluently…

He proved all the theories about broken homes,

and young parents,

oh so wrong…

His very shy father refused to wear pants,

unless he was going to a wedding or a funeral…

And he made it personal policy,

to avoid weddings and funerals,

so’s he could stay in his shorts…

One morning his little boy,

put a small hand up,

as he sat among his classmates,

on the carpet,

and said,

with chagrin,

Today is my dad’s birthday…

He just isn’t twenty-six anymore…

I said,

That’s got to be rough…

He said,


I’m really not sure how he’s going to cope…

Another day,

after he came to me,

to say he had finished his drawing,

I asked him,

Do you feel like you can never get down on paper,

what you see in your head???

He looked right into all of my eyes and said,

How did you know???

I said,

Because I am like that too…

And it makes me not want to draw at all…

In fact I stopped drawing when I was five,

and I didn’t start again until I was a teacher,

because I had to teach art…

Do you mind if I give you some suggestions of what you could add to your work???

He said,

I don’t mind…

Please do…

But I struggled inside with how hard to push,

and when to step back,

and accept a child’s words when he says,

I’m done…

And because this little boy could read my mind,

and he knew what I needed to hear,

right in that very moment,

I heard him say to his neighbour,

on his way back to his desk,

Our teacher always has good ideas for how I can make my work better…

His grandmother told me many stories about her only grandchild…

She said,

I have raised three children,

and my grandson is the smartest person that I have ever met…

He taught himself to read when he was three…

He has spent every day with me since he was two,

and his mom left…

I didn’t teach him letters or anything,

but I guess he saw me reading all of the time,

and I always listened to him,

and his questions…

She told me about how when he was three,

he and his auntie were watching spotlights,

circling in the night sky,

and he told her,

Those are God’s fingers spreading peace around the world…

We don’t need to teach children about poetry,

they already know it,

because poetry is what we are made of…

One afternoon this little boy finished his work,

before everyone else did…

I thought of making suggestions of how he could do more,

but another idea pushed its way into my mind,

and out of my mouth…

I said,

I want you to read a book,

and look for the most beautiful words,

that you would like to share,

with your classmates…

He got the job done,

with a lot of full moons in Capricorn…

When his classmates were finished their own journal writing,

we all gathered on the carpet to hear the littlest boy read,

in the biggest voice I have ever borne witness to…

And this is what he said,

From within the dimly lit barn a sound can be heard…

It is the painful lowing of a cow about to give birth…

When I was a girl I used to pray for God to send me a brother…

He hasn’t yet…

This Sunday morning I had a dream that Kyle Wellwood was in my kitchen,

and we were making scones for breakfast,

like he was the brother I’d been asking for…

I hesitated about putting bittersweet chocolate chips,

in the scones,

due to all the media attention on his girth…

Kyle suggested dried fruit instead,

for extra energy…

Later that afternoon I listened to the Canucks playing the Predators…

Whether you’re playing hockey in Nashville,


Prince George,

or anywhere else,

you really should have chocolate chips in your pre-game scones,

in order to put some pepper in your shot…

Note to Self:

Trust your instincts…

They know better,

than anything else…

Like the gravel that runs from my door to yours… (photo: Starshine)

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