What’s that you say?


<parental crowing begins>

H is Thetford Academy’s Student of the Month for February 2016?

You bet she is!

And oh! Her teachers wrote the kindest, most spot-on things about her. But I don’t mean to gloat. That’s H’s responsibility (though she never ever would, which is another amazing thing about her). I’ll just sit here and glow on her behalf.

But wait, that’s not all you get…

If you act now, you can also read her new poem, “Simple Anonymity,” published yesterday at GirlSense & NonSense.

Dang, she’s cool. (Am I allowed to say/write that? Oh yeah, it’s MY blog.)

</parental crowing ends>

Simple Anonymity

There are a hundred thousand things I don’t experience every day
   and there are a hundred thousand things that I do.
There are a hundred thousand things my mother and my father think about every day
   and there are a hundred thousand things that my mother and my father don’t.
My mother says her mind is scattering, scattering like light
   and she has a hundred thousand lists and calendars to keep the scatter contained.
My father’s brain is an encyclopedia of facts and notes that sometimes all come spilling out at once
   and sometimes don’t come out at all.
My mind is a video camera, one of the old ones, with crackling film and focusless images
   and it records a hundred thousand things a day.
If I could, I would plant her a tree to hang her hundred thousand thoughts on
   and I would give him an infinite page to record his hundred thousand facts on.
But I am no gardener
   and I am no paper-maker

I am a camera
   and I can watch
      and I can listen
         and I can appreciate the hundred thousand things a day that they think of
            and the hundred thousand things a day that they don’t.
The connection between a movie we watched together ten years before
   and the book he was reading this afternoon.
The rapidity of the weekend
   and the slow drag of the week.
The friendly anonymity of people whose dogs meet on the trail between here
   and there.

–Hyla Maddalena




The root of the root

The root of the root

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                    i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

–E. E. Cummings, Copyright 1952, © 1980, 1991 by the Trustees for the E. E. Cummings

A brightness

Is the coast clear?

Bird at the Window

Beyond is a brightness
I am not equal to

Yet what I see
Turns into what I want,

And to bring nothing but this body
To pass through

The one thing between
Myself and what I crave,

Almost done, the world a ruin
Of leaves, winter at the throat,

My song over and over until
So familiar I can do

What I am about to do
While you who rise from the table

And walk from room to room
Will remember only the sound

Of what cast herself through
All that glass, instead of the song

That was sung until finally
You would ask to know more.

–Sophie Cabot Black, Poetry (June 2008)

For Hyla


Thirteen thoughts on your fourteenth birthday

When the moon shines on the water with the twinkling distant suns,
You would need a calculator just to count the lucky ones.
— Cheryl Wheeler

Before you were born,
you were always with me.
When I woke, I carried you
with me to the shower
to the kitchen, to the car.
I buckled the both of us up.
At work, we took a secret nap at 3.
You were always with me.

A girl and a Singapura
are one.
A girl and a Singapura
and a raccoon dog and a minnow
are one.

This first word we recognized was “dog”.
Or maybe it “dad”.
You said your word
over and over
to the dog
to your father
to me.
You named us all a word.
You claimed us all with a word.

“Girls’ Wednesday”
You’re in a car seat in the backseat,
waving a hot dog in your hand.
We’re singing along with the radio.
“This is the best day of my life” you say.
And I think.

I love you.
I love you more.
I love you most.
I love you more than toast.

Whatever is the now
is the only thing that counts,
The thing you have in your fist
is worth two in the bush.
The now, the now, the now
is what you remind us to hold.

On the school swing set,
you sang the swing as high as it would go:
“Down in St. Mary’s county, headed south from Baltimore”.
You taught the littler girls to do the same.
In Chicago, you sang “O mio babbino caro”
In the science museum’s whispering gallery
In the art institute’s stock exchange trading room,
to an audience of two.
When I was a girl, I sang songs to myself
all the way from school to home.
Every day.
When you’re in a sunny mood, you hum
Christmas carols,
even in the summer.
Your father revs out “Jingle Bells”
with the brush cutter.
You come by it honestly.

Three weeks old,
September evening.
You and I had a day.
You were not yet you,
and I was still learning how to be a mother.

You sat in your buzzy seat,
my little growly monster,
and watched as I
hustled around the kitchen
piecing together a dinner

I stopped in my rush to
watch the slanted evening light fall
across your face.
Your eyes were wide
with some emotion neither of us knew.

I smiled to reassure you,
and said something, maybe your name.
I saw the twitch of your first smile
as subtle as the first flutter
I felt when you were a mere seed inside.
And I knew who you were.

The iron-tinted river is flowing.
You must be swimming.

I love you this much.
I love you from here to the moon.
I love you from here to the moon and back.
I love you from here to the moon and back.
Plus infinity.

The perseids were sailing across the sky
all night.
We were oblivious.
Focused only on the brewing storm,
of your arrival,
and the thunder outside.

Your bedroom floor,
is littered with books
like leaves on a forest floor,
or bones around an ancient fire pit,
radiating out from your bed
where you devour one by one
toss the finished one away
and reach for the next course.

Every day, you
write, you breathe, you blink, you
write, you see, you eat, you
write, you laugh, you think, you
write, you furrow and bristle, you
write, you crave, you sleep, you
write, you write your
first sentence
of the novel
of your

Maybe I should hand her the keys?

Rebecca: What should I write today?

Hyla: Write an ode to the fire.
R: That’s a good idea. What defines an “ode”?
H: I can show you one I wrote about Oyster.
R: Please do.

. . .

R: Oh, I like this! Can we post this today instead of something I write?
H: Sure!

Oyster in Repose

Ode To A Cat

The gentle
sits regally,
surveys his jungle-kingdom
and draws the curtain of
his private war chamber.
Sitting on the velvet cushion,
surrounded by his family, loyal courtiers,
the mighty cat sends out orders
to move this regiment here,
to send a gift to this nation.
Going through his daily routine,
he feels weary.
And one evening,
he meows to his faithful page, Hudson;
“I am hungry,”
the powerful rumble
of his voice fills the room.
His page offers;
“Anything, King Oyster.
I will go to the market
and buy it for you.”
The royal cat
shakes his head,
and his long white whiskers shine.
He wants to go to the market himself.
And so,
as the king wished,
they go to the market,
on foot,
the wind rips at their faces,
tearing up the feathery snow and dusting it
over their faces.
At the market,
the people stare and whisper:
“The king!”
And Oyster laughs;
leaping up to play with the kittens,
giving hard-earned rewards to their parents
and kin.
They pass large wealthy buildings,
bursting with delicious food,
and Hudson suggests them all.
The king shakes his head and walks on.
At the end of the path,
they come to a bleak hovel,
in which a wife cooks what she has.
The king orders the page to buy good milk,
cheese and meat, and to
bring them to him. Meanwhile,
he slips into the small house.
The wife does not recognize him,
and offers him some soup.
The king thanks her and laps it up slowly.
Hudson knocks at the door,
and Oyster opens it.
The kind cat and her family
revel in the delicious gifts
and thank the king
again and
The king and page buy a cheese
and go home.
He enters his palace again
and curls up by the crackling fire
my father stokes.

–Hyla Maddalena

November afternoon fire


Dulce et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!-An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime…
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,-
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

–Wilfred Owen
Britain (1893-1918)