Sunday, April 8, 2018

POEM #8- Dear Ellen Tebbits (a poem in two voices?)

Dear Ellen Tebbits,

Did you know
I told a lie
because of you?

It's true.

I was about eight years old.
                                I think you were about eight too. 

I could read chapter books.
                               And you were one of my favorites.
                               I loved Ramona and Beezus and Henry Huggins
                               pretty much all of the Beverly Cleary books. 
                               But you were my favorite. 

You were a good girl.
                            I was a good girl too. 

You were not very good at ballet.
                             I was awful at ballet. 
                            And a little sad 
                            because both of my sisters 
                           were really good at dance and gymnastics
                            and anything athletic. 
                            And I wasn't. 
                            At all. 

You were a little awkward.
                            You wore your long underwear 
                             tied around your waist at ballet class.
                             and then it wouldn't stay there
                             when you tried to dance 
                             and Otis Spofford made fun of you.
                             I was a little awkward 
                             and it was a relief to know that 
                              other people were too.

You had problems with your friends.
                             You didn't have any good friends.
                              And then you and Austine were best friends.
                              And then you had a fight.
                               And you didn't know how to fix it.
                               I sometimes had problems with my friends too. 
You twisted your hair when you were thinking or worried.
                            I started twisting my hair too.

Except there was nothing in the book about your hair falling out.
                           And when I twisted my hair, it fell out.
                           And left a quarter-sized bald spot on my head.
                           And my mom thought I had a fatal disease.
                           And took me to the doctor.
                           And I was too embarrassed to explain about you. 
                            So I told the doctor I had a friend named Ellen.
                             And she told me to twist my hair.

Dear Ellen Tebbits,
Did you know
I told a lie
because of you?

(C) Carol Wilcox, 2018


Elisabeth Ellington said...

This was also one of my favorite books, though I probably did love Ramona better. But I read and reread Ellen Tebbits so often. This is a hilarious story of the unexpected consequences of passionate reading! I really like the format of a letter to a book character as well.

Glenda Funk said...

I love the repetition at the end that circles back to the opening. The middle has such a child-like recounting of details. Best: this poem offers a succinct argument for children seeing themselves in books. Wonderful job. BTW, prior to navigating to your poem I was thinking about when I met Billy Collins and how I could try to write a poem about that moment; your poem helps me clarify my thoughts.

Mary Lee said...

What a vivid memory! And yes, I think it qualifies for two voices. The first seems to be out loud, while the second is the whispered thoughts.