My childhood is a lockbox in the attic
securing the slow sound of sandpaper
stripping veneer by a medium-grit woman
at ease on the floor of the garage,
a vintage afghan dozing next to the Siamese cat
on the squat couch in the living room,
and the day-old smell of varnish rising up
from a garnet of a man deep in his own basement
on a lean Saturday afternoon.
I am under the bed
pretending to be hungry
Windows wide open,
the walls expand,
the room is midsummer’s lung.
Carried in is the sound
of a snip and a trim–
my mother outside pruning the forsythia.
She hums, then dah-dah-dahs
a song with no lyrics.
I am under the bed
pretending to be a bear cub
in a carpeted cave
awaiting my mother’s return.
My favorite part of this childhood memory is I don’t think my mom knew I could hear her singing. She isn’t one to sing in public. She is the main person I’m talking to when I’m creating a new post. It might make me sound like a mama’s boy, but it’s true.
I chose to write this as a poem to celebrate National Poetry Month. I think poetry gets a bad rap. I blame school curricula for teaching only the stuffy classics that are hard to relate to when you’re a teenager. And for teaching that there is only one way to interpret it and any other way means you ‘don’t get it.’ The truth is that poetry is just like fiction. There are voices that will stick with you and voices that you would rather skip.
Poetry is all around us: on the radio, in tv jingles and print ad campaigns. It’s all about using words creatively to make people feel differently after they’ve read your poem. That’s all. Shake some of that bad poetry mojo (if you have any) and celebrate Poetry Month:
Listen to other poems read by actors: Poetry Out Loud : Listen to Poetry.
Read the lyrics to your favorite song. Try not to hear the melody while you do 😉
Watch and listen to one of my favorite poets read his own work: