Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Advice from a Caterpillar

by Amy Gerstler (Dearest Creature)

Chew your way into a new world.
Munch leaves.  Molt.  Rest.  Molt
again.  Self-reinvention is everything.
Spin many nests.  Cultivate stinging
bristles.  Don't get sentimental
about your discarded skins.  Grow
quickly.  Develop a yen for nettles.
Alternate crumpling and climbing.  Rely
on your antennae.  Sequester poisons
in your body for use at a later date.
When threatened, emit foul odors
in self-defense.  Behave cryptically
to confuse predators: change colors, spit,
or feign death.  If all else fails, taste terrible.

I received Amy Gerstler's book Dearest Creature as a Mother's Day present and this was the first poem I read.  What a great gift! Read more about her at the Poetry Foundation.  I'll add more information about her when I have a free moment.  Enjoy ~

Friday, May 6, 2011


by Jaye Shore Freyer

Adults spoke an audible braille
I could mimic but just half comprehend ~
must have been that my mind was as green
as the fields of those afternoons ~
as untethered and untamed as a wren

Take Casualty Calls ~ a term 
common as weeds in my seventh year;
the soft southern arc in my inner ear 
knew call, that lazily stretched
its neighborly vowel, 
making a visit genteel;  
and casual's sensual sound 
rubbed its back like a cat 
slipping along the back of my throat,
carefully side-stepping my tongue.
Did I ask?  If I did, 
it was probably defined 
as 'work to be done'.  

Da Nang, Kwang Tri, Dong Ha 
the same ~ can still feel how they felt ~
rolling around in my mouth ~ 
colored balloons of sound
held by the slender twine of a pause ~
over and over again - hop scotch
jumping rope with friends,
pumping the swing 
till it tugged at it's reins

And then, what ended on the airport tarmac
was a beginning of a long silence,
not just for me but all of us.

Collage of my Dad, 1967
When I think about our current wars I think about my own family - the years when I was young and having a father see action seemed fun, exotic, important ~ a grade school child's view of the world.  It all changed when my father came back from Viet Nam and the fun fell out of it. I realized how badly I'd bungled understanding what was going on.  In the days before Google children were left to figure what grown-ups were talking about and my parents seemed to make a conscious effort to leave us to our childhood as much as they could. 

The events this week, with the capture/killing of Osama bin Ladin, triggered a recurring thought that my son and his friends were the age I was here when the towers went down, and I have wondered what they make of what they have (haven't ) understood about the events that course through their lives.  They seem so much savvier than I ever was but I'm curious to see how they capture their point of view for us  ~  I'm looking forward to hearing their voices ~ and know it may take years for this to happen as it has here for me.