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Everything Lives, Everything Dances, Everything Sings
For all my bravado elsewhere about being open about being a mother and a poet, I do get leery of doing too much kiddie-mentioning. I think about Maisie plenty and am not ashamed to, and like to, and will happily buttonhole you at a party and recite her three-year-old poems (genius, surely!) to you until you beg for mercy or throw a drink in my face—but also find it possible not to mention her in my poems and prose with some regularity. I do think about other things. And you can write/boast yourself into a mommy-box if you’re not careful. One’s children are mostly fascinating to oneself. That said, this book of kid-poetry is so good that I’m going to risk recommending it: Eric Carle’s Animals, Animals. It’s Carle’s handsome painterly pictures and pages and pages of poems by various people about animals, and not a single bit of stupid Dr. Seuss, who makes me feel homicidal. Maisie loves Animals, Animals and so do I—one of those semi-rare books it’s not excruciating to read over and over again. Some samples:
I throw myself to the left.
I turn myself to the right.
I am the fish
Who glides in the water, who glides,
Who twists himself, who leaps.
Everything lives, everything dances, everything sings.
Oh! hush thee, my baby, the night is behind us.
And black are the waters that sparkled so green.
The moon, o’er the combers, looks downward to find us
At rest in the hollows that rustle between.
Where billow meets billow, there soft be thy pillow;
Ah, weary wee flipperling, curl at thy ease!
The storm shall not wake thee, no shark overtake thee.
Asleep in the arms of the slow-swinging seas.
a black sun.
In his cold
carries it still.
Black rays roar
from the centers
of his eyes.
“That’s a mysterious poem,” says Maisie.
THE TORTOISE AND THE HEDGEHOG
Can’t curl, but can swim—
Slow-Solid, that’s him!
Curls up, but can’t swim—
Stickly-Prickly, that’s him.
Butterflies, dancing through falling snow!
What a wonderful sight it would be!
How sadly the bird in his cage
Watches the butterfly.
“Why do you think he’s sad?” I say.
“Because he can’t fly around. I will let him out,” says Maisie, and slides her hand across the page, as if opening the cage.