At the end of last summer, in September, I found, between my front doors, a collection of poetry written by one of my former summer camp students. For months and months, I carried her collection in my bag - all through the fall, and through much of the winter. Although I was not writing myself, she was an inspiration. Each day, all through June and July of 2009, she opened her eyes and ears and heart to the world. She paid attention and she wrote. She never missed a day. I knew nothing of this until I found her book at my door - 61 poems for 61 days. William Stafford would have loved her. These poems were written the summer between her eight and ninth grade. She was 14 years old at the time, amazingly present in the world.
For a long time, I have been walking around rather blindly, not seeing, not receiving, not feeling Jade's sense of wonder with the world at all. Last week I decided that beginning August 1, 2010, I would wake up and try to write responses to Jade's 2009 poems - one each day in August. She is much more proficient than I am in all regards - vision, voice, presence. Still, I plan to try to emulate her. I will try to post her poems and one in response. Sadly, I am already behind. But one poem for two days is a start . . .
Here is Jade's August 1st, 2009 poem:
- Jade DeFehr
Someone once taught
to read to the roses,
or any deserving flower.
Alice in Wonderland proves
they can hear and taste and analyze
tumbling out of
One day I might
even come across a flower
of "The Golden Afternoon"
I'd sit next to her
and the Queen of Hearts
I really would learn
a lot of things
from the flowers.
At fourteen, she decides to write
a poem each day and then
proceeds to do so.
Nothing stops her. Nothing
is undeserving of her attention, each day
an open invitation to small celebrations.
For the flowers, she writes – the roses,
the hollyhocks, the fields of blooming
clover; for the green doors
of summer, the lost and found
stars in the sky, the choirs
that sing in her head,
the crickets, the sun, the solace
of one lonely beetle
climbing his own little mountain,
again and again. For all of us, she writes
and writes and then,
when summer is over,
and fall creeping in, she wraps them all up
like a gift, ties them together
with words and leaves them behind
in the doorways of the lucky unsuspecting few.