Thursday, March 26, 2009
a little blessing from third grade
For the second time in two weeks I awakened to dense fog, and today I've been infatuated with the way the soft white causes other things, like open barn windows, and wet tree trunks, to stand out in stark relief. Which is intriguing, that something so untouchable and ethereal brings out the sharp edges of the things it surrounds.
For some reason, today's fog made me remember third grade, which was the year I was skipped ahead to a fifth grade class. It was a hard year for me, but for a part of that year we had a student teacher, whose name I can't recall, but I do remember the way she looked.
She had an intense passion for teaching and particularly for literature and poetry, and one of our assignments was to write a poem and then prepare it for display.
The poem I wrote was titled Mr. Mist and although I do not remember it entirely, I can recall a few lines, and the fact that the poem personified mist as a man who came wearing a "brown hat and cloak." I clearly remember being very excited about using the word cloak, which I'd obviously read in a book and while no one around me ever used that word, I loved it and wanted to incorporate it into my poem.
We had to read our work out loud, which was difficult for me, as I was very shy. It was also difficult because my audience, the fifth graders, had all written very funny, silly limerick style poems and mine was so serious and full of metaphor and imagery they just sat there while I read it, which I took as negative critique of the highest order.
The student teacher had pulled me aside earlier in the day to tell me how wonderful the poem was, and to praise the various elements I'd used, most of which were new to me. She was clearly excited about my work, and I remember her giving me a little hug, and saying how proud she was to hang the poem on the bulletin board. I'd copied it in newly-learned cursive handwriting and taped it onto a piece of bright yellow construction paper, and the incongruity and intention of that choice also made her smile. I explained that I wanted to make the contrast visible - the sunshine yellow paper for a poem that was all about mist and darkness.
That I recall all these details so vividly, all these years later, makes it obvious that her attention that day meant a lot to me, and I'm sure it was one of the earliest moments when I felt like someone else saw me for what I felt I was - a writer.
And how perfect it is that today, surrounded by mist and fog and the dark shapes made more intense, that wonderful feeling has come forth again, fully formed, a little blessing.