A young person was at my house the other day devoting a great deal of attention to the words that live on my refrigerator. I have unfortunately ceased to see these words–that’s what happens with words, you get used to them, take them for granted, stop working at the relationship. Seeing her kneel in front of the words and arrange them so lovingly was a blow to my conscience. As penance I assisted her with locating the sundry conjunctions and prepositions she requested, handing them to her like scalpels to a surgeon.
Earlier in the day we’d trudged through mud to chop down a tree and bring it back to my house and festoon it with entirely unnecessary decorations. Sometimes this is how writing feels to me, an unnecessary festooning, except then I remember the part about the tree being both lovely and comforting and how in the dead of winter, in the dark of winter, it doesn’t actually feel unnecessary.
One of the greatest obstacles to writing well is the necessity of simultaneously forgetting everything you ever knew about language and remembering everything you know about language. It’s the complicated business of being every age you’ve ever been all at once, knowing and unknowing all the things you’ve ever been ignorant of and then learned. It’s a strange trick you have to play with your mind and it doesn’t work, not often, not well, not for most of us. Knowing and forgetting, dreaming and being aware. I think it can sometimes work better for children because they have learned less and forgotten more. But that might be my romanticism speaking. Or my continual yearning for beginner’s mind.
refrigerator poetry: Sophia S., age nine
9 thoughts on “what happened on my refrigerator last weekend”
wow, love the tone of this piece, the tree redeemed, as words can be transfigured
when you said a young person, hardly imagined you meant the young! o muddy mushroom joy
o deep winter, lift
100%. all the time. all of my ages. plus 57 more. yes. however only partially on this planet. and. btw. imo. children learn more and forget less. and that’s why they. . . . even though I all the time. switch places. around myself. and find. found. finding. meaning grows that way as fine. as those beautiful trees. from the blistering cold mud. walked in beauty.
this door of darkness and light to my studio ever greened in trees
Lovely. Children are the best teachers.
A budding haikuist!
Children can and usually are totally honest. There’s no mistaking a comment or opinion. One of my granddaughter’s read to me a poem her teacher had praised. I read to her a haiku. She was eight at the time and her comment was: “Is that it?” I guess 3 lines just didn’t measure up to her 8 lines.
Great poetry by the little one. And great prose by you, as always. A refreshing take on poetry and the writing process.
“…simultaneously forgetting everything you ever knew about language and remembering everything you know…” Thank you for the reminder.
What wonderful and thought-provoking responses everyone had to this–thanks, all.