Where have you found poetry?
Then. I found poetry spilling out of my first box of 64 Crayons. Suddenly buildings weren’t red, they were brick red; dirt wasn’t brown, it was burnt sienna; a sunset sky wasn’t orange, it was a sky streaked with coral, peach, periwinkle, and lilac. The woods behind my house weren’t green, they were forest green, and I learned to do cartwheels over spring green grass. My favorite crayon? Gold.
I found poetry in naming the colors of my world.
Now. I hear the clatter of spilling verse in the chatter of children around me. I try to catch and juggle syllables. Words. Phrases. But they melt like snowflakes in midair if I don’t write them down.
My mother-in-law taught poetry. One Sunday afternoon, we sat in her living room in that comfortable After-Sunday-Dinner silence measured by the ticking of an old family clock. She was one hundred years old. Into that silence she recited a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay; then some Tennyson; and then some Longfellow. She was losing her hearing and her sight and her memory, but not her poetry. Memorizing poetry, she said, “has lined my heart with gold.” She knew just where to find poetry.
On Friday children stood and recited poems from memory. The poems were beautiful or funny or heartfelt. We laughed. We nodded. We snapped our fingers (coffee house style) in appreciation. As copies were passed out, poetry folders got thicker and thicker. We took turns reading each other’s poetry. Yes, they said, let’s do this next week, too.
And we will. We will look for poetry and find it. We will memorize it and recite it. We will write it. In a room of lilac and forest green, we are lining our hearts with gold.