I spent most of the rainy day working on class plans, but I also did a better thing: I started a new poem--and so today I have two embryos (this poem and the essay I began 10 days ago) to cogitate over and fiddle with. I like the dangling prepositions in that last sentence; they replicate the state of my writing mind . . . direction without detail, sound without substance. I wonder is the house where I am living.
My friend Ruth wrote to tell me she has been teaching a Tu Fu poem to kindergartners. "It is XXVII, 'Far Up the River.' Little Fiona, an ethereal creature with a very pronounced lisp, suddenly said, 'The words are just floating like a river. They are so pretty, we could dance to them.'"
The words are floating just like a river.
Last week, I taught kindergartners too. This is the poem the children wrote together:
White clouds are moving in the skyHaving just read a Nikki Giovanni poem with me, they were very firm about the importance of keeping the i lowercased.
and the sun is shining like a big fire.
In the blue sky the hawk leaves his wings still
and then flaps them again.
A huge straight oak is budding.
My friend is swinging.
i hear laughing, squeaking, cars going by.
Ants are crawling in the short green grass, eating crumbs.
And the hawk description--they spent so much time hunting for words to describe the movement of its wings. To sit back and let that happen is one of the things I have learned about working with very young students. It is always, always tempting to put words into their mouths. And the problem is that they usually let us do it.