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Poetry Friday

Talking about reading with Will put me in mind of this exquisite poem by Diane Swan that I ran across a year or so ago on Kristin Cashore's blog. I was transfixed reading it for the first time. And I think of it, the lines running hauntingly and beautifully through my head, all the time now. 

***

Soup and Bread

by Diane Swan


Christopher's girlfriend
has a green cockatiel
and he tells the family at dinner
that cuttlebone-- what the bird
sharpens its beak on--
comes from a squid.
I am startled. He knows more
than I have told him.


One lunchtime years ago
he called me an instructicon
and often I did talk
as if my children were tall glass vases
formed to contain my twigs of trivia,
long branches of perennial wisdom.
What I wanted, though I didn't know it then,
was that clean clothes, knowledge,
bread, everything good
would come to them through me.


Now they are walking ahead
toward the theater, two young men
in gray jackets, a girl in a moss-gold
scarf, and where their shoulders touch
in heavy winter coats I see faint links
of light, the small chains they make.
And I feel my silence, old hungers
at the place of change, and hear their voices
down the flickering years ahead
telling me things I didn't know.


***


Poetry Friday is hosted at Becky's Book Reviews this week.

Comments

  1. Yes, "children stand on the shoulders of their parents."

    Sometimes we don't know what we know until we need to explain something to our children. Our children stretch us and make us more than what we are.

    Of course, the main reason I had a child was so that someone would eat the leftover yellow jelly beans. (Just kidding!)

    Laura

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  2. Beautiful. I love it when someone captures that realization a mom has that her children are growing up and away. Tender, precious, grateful.

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  3. This made me very envious. Can't wait to have a little one of my own! :)

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  4. Laura, well put. It's a beautifully complex and evolving relationship. And that's hilarious about the yellow jelly beans. :)

    Doraine, I couldn't believe it when I read it. It starts out simply enough and then it just hits you in the gut with its accuracy and presence. I love it.

    fictionfanatic, *grin* there's nothing like it in the world. I'm excited for you whenever that day may come. :)

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  5. The line I liked in the poem was the realization that "he knows more than I have told him."

    That's similar to the shock I felt when this science-weak mom's daughter started taking Organic Chemistry! I still can't get over it. Thanks to the poem for evoking that.

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  6. Shelley, it's so wonderfully personal I think. Evoking emotions in a wide swath of readers. The last section is the one that kills me. Particularly "the small chains they make" and "their voices down the flickering years ahead telling me things I didn't know." Unfreakingbelievably good. :)

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