Sunday, April 29, 2018

POEM #29- Radicle

On Friday night, I was looking back through the poems I have written this month. I was surprised, ok, maybe shocked is a better word, to discover that I had never written a poem to my mom's mom, my Grandma Grace. Grandma Grace was a librarian in the Chicago Public Library system for many, many years. And if I had to pick one person who rooted and grew me as a reader, it would definitely be her. I am not sure why I have not written about her in my poetry journey this month. As I was writing, I wondered if the first root had a special name, so I googled it, and found that it's called the "radicle." I guess that kind of fits, too, with Amy Ludwig Vanderwater's strategy, "Be Inspired by Science."


Radicle: the tree's first root. 
Roots are responsible 
for anchoring the plant body 
to the ground, 
and supporting it. 
You, Grandma Grace, 
were definitely 
my reading radicle. 

you always had a stack of books waiting
on the end table in your living room 
and every summer, when we arrived in Chicago,
i headed for the armchair in the front room 
a reading throne 
where i would take up residence
to devour book after book after book

my reading radicle

you gave me the Little House series
all eight of them
one at a time
i signed the first one
"to Carol Wilcox 
from Grandma Grace, 
December 24, 1967,
Colorado Springs, Colorado
you signed the next seven
i still have those books

my reading radicle

and you introduced me 
to the Newbery Medal
I'm not sure it was intentional
but i still think of 
Claudia and Jamie,
and their grandmother,
Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
every year, when the winners are announced
and every time I walk into a museum,
not to mention the million mini-lessons 
I have taught around thinking 
about how an author constructs a text
based on my own comprehension difficulties, 
when I, as a fourth grader,
failed to read Mrs. BEF's prologue.

my reading radicle

The radicle, a tree's first root. 
responsible for anchoring the plant body 
to the ground, 
and supporting it. 
You, Grandma Grace, 
were definitely 
my reading radicle. 

(C) Carol Wilcox, 2018


Mary Lee said...

What a masterful and moving tribute! Not only is it woven through with science, but you made it circular as well. **standing ovation**

Glenda Funk said...

I love the metaphor here and couldn't help but think about my grandfather. He read all the time, but he didn't talk much about reading. I'm the first in my family to go to college, but there are many readers on my father's side who modeled reading for me. I loved reading the repetition of "radicle' in your poem and the specific books you read as a child.

Cathy said...

I just love grandma stories and poetry. What a delightful memory. Your repeating opening and closing stanzas helped to emphasize your point with all of the richness of memory tucked sweetly inside.