Archive for the ‘Sarah G.’ Category

Bedecked

Monday, October 2nd, 2006

by Victoria Redel

Tell me it’s wrong the scarlet nails my son sports or the toy
store rings he clusters four jewels to each finger.

He’s bedecked. I see the other mothers looking at the star
choker, the rhinestone strand he fastens over a sock.
Sometimes I help him find sparkle clip-ons when he says
sticker earrings look too fake.

Tell me I should teach him it’s wrong to love the glitter that a
boy’s only a boy who’d love a truck with a remote that revs,
battery slamming into corners or Hot Wheels loop-de-looping
off tracks into the tub.

Then tell me it’s fine – really – maybe even a good thing – a boy
who’s got some girl to him,
and I’m right for the days he wears a pink shirt on the seesaw in
the park.

Tell me what you need to tell me but keep far away from my son
who still loves a beautiful thing not for what it means –
this way or that – but for the way facets set off prisms and
prisms spin up everywhere
and from his own jeweled body he’s cast rainbows – made every
shining true color.

Now try to tell me – man or woman – your heart was ever once
that brave.

I’m not entirely sure about all of her line breaks, or her choices to make some lines run together, but it occurs to me that the structure of her poem is almost like the facets she writes about – a little fractured, a little distorted, but sparkling and lovely all the same. I love the idea that “he’s bedecked.” It carries so many connotations: luxury, extravagance, even something (like prejudice or stereotypes) that’s put upon one. And I love the last line. Maybe I’m sappy, but it gave me chills.

One of my favorites

Sunday, September 17th, 2006

On Turning Ten

The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I’m coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light-
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.

You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.

But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.

This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn to the first big number.

It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I would shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.

—– Billy Collins

I’m fascinated by this poem. It somehow combines a truly childlike persona with the grimness of adult life. Above all, I love the imagery – “If you cut me, I would shine” and especially the bike with the “dark blue speed drained out of it.” It’s more painful than most nostalgic poems, perhaps because it is spoken by someone who is still so young.