Thursday, April 5, 2018

Poem #5- Reading Roots

April is National Poetry Month. Books and reading have always been at the center of my life, and so I'm writing a series of poems, "A Reading Life." I'm getting lots of ideas from Amy Ludwig Vanderwater, over at The Poem Farm. Amy says,
This year at The Poem Farm, I will be writing a new poem every day about the constellation Orion.  Every day I will highlight a new poetic technique, a technique used by poets and by writers of other genres as well. After all, the techniques of poets are the techniques of all writers. I will be using my Fall 2017 Heinemann book, POEMS ARE TEACHERS, to lead me as I write all April long.
Today, Amy's technique is second person. She writes,
The poem is in second person because the speaker is speaking directly to the reader, in a YOU voice.  This worked out perfectly today, as it allowed my speaker to address my friend Mary Lee and anyone else who might feel conflicted about Orion's role in myth and in their lives. Second person is great for when you want to confide in someone or when you want your writing to feel directly personal.
Earlier this week, I had started a poem for my dad, a quiet, down-to-earth, midwestern manufacturers'  rep for industrial plumbing and heating supplies, a three-sport-college athlete, father of three girls, who always said he wasn't a reader, but pretty much always had a book going. My poem was originally in third person, but it wasn't quite working, so I had put it aside. Reading Amy's poem this morning, I wondered if I could make this one work in second person. And so I tried it.

Reading Roots #1
To dad

You always tell me
you are not a reader.
"I read really slowly,"
you say firmly
as if rate
was an accurate measure
of readerhood.
And when I am in college,
waiting for you to finish
the next John Grisham legal thriller,
so I can have it
I would agree.

You do read pretty slowly.

And yet every morning
when I come downstairs to start my day
you are sitting in your brown recliner
in front of the fireplace
in our family room,
pre-shower, messy hair,
loosely belted terry cloth robe
lost in your current read.
You look up only long enough
to grunt good morning,
then return to your book.

Five hundred pages
and a month later
you are finally finished
and I can read
the hardcover book
you purchased
from a bookstore
the day it was released.

Seventy two hours later,
we meet for book club.

You are a foodie,
who has savored
every delicious bite
of this author's feast.
You remember
details, foreshadowing,
twists and turns in the plot,
even specific words the writer has chosen.

I, on the other hand,
am a book cave girl
who has devoured this tome
in ravenous, ripping bites.
And even though book juice
is still dripping down my chin
onto the front of my shirt
I can tell you almost nothing
about my latest read.
Not even the main characters' names.
I remember only broad swatches of plot.

Perhaps I am the one
who is not a reader.

(c) Carol Wilcox, 2018

Jama Rattigan has compiled a list of poetry happenings in Kidlitosphere this month.


Linda B said...

I love that you considered the "you" of your dad, that 'non-reader', and that he is a "foodie,
who has savored
every delicious bite
of this author's feast." Your 'turn' to yourself is delightful. We learn from our parents even when we think we didn't!

Elisabeth Ellington said...

Oh Carol, I love this so much. It gave me goosebumps with the turn at the end. And I, too, am a "book cave girl" (so perfect) who devours but rarely savors and thinks and remembers. I think the second person works extremely well here, and I was quite interested in the back story of making that shift and unlocking the poem that previously wasn't quite coming together.

Glenda Funk said...

First, I love this tribute to your father, the slow reader who savors every morsel of a book. I love the images of books as food. I thought about Tom Newkirk's admission that he is a slow reader. I am, too. I also love the way you use "you" to create nostalgia and intimacy in this poem. It's really beautiful and inspiring.

Books4Learning said...

Wonderful poem. I love the contrast between the two of you and your insight on who is the real reader! i relate to your father. I am a slow reader! :)

Mary Lee said...

Lovely ode to your father...and to slow(er) reading. I'm afraid I'm a cave girl reader, too!

Ramona said...

Oh, Carol, such a delightful snapshot. Your dad, the foodie savoring every delicious bite and you, the book cave girl, devouring in ravenous, ripping bites. I used to tell my daughter that she inhaled books. She still reads much faster than me! But my slow pace doesn't mean that I recall like your dad could.

Amanda Potts said...

What incredible metaphors here. I love the image of your father as a foodie and you as a book cave girl. The description of how you read - book juice still dripping - is amazing. I'm a book cave girl, too - and my husband a foodie. I love how all kinds of reading are valued here - and the second person really works.