Poem in Process: #10–April 10, 2016

Number 10

Where I Live

My grandmother had a silver teapot.
It grew black inside and out,
So she had it dipped in a bubbling vat
Of chrome, from base to spout.

It never needed polish then
Or any special tender care,
And she could spend a lot more time
Combing and combing her brittling hair.

One cannot tend to everything.
I know I have to pick and choose
Among the things with shine I love
And those I’ll really use.

But magpie words! Those ones I hoard,
The ones I find and love the best,
I’ll use their gleam and chainmail strength
To weave a place to live: this nest.

Leslie Schultz

This kind of poetic structure, the simple ABCB quatrain, is the first form I used when I started writing poetry at age eight, although I believe that the first form I encountered was the couplet. Remember this?

“In an old house in Paris, that was covered in vines,
Lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.”

They are, of course, the immortal opening lines to Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans, 1939. I probably feel about them the way ancient Greeks felt about Homer’s opening lines in the Iliad. Instantly, their incantatory quality summons me to a different place, a hyper-real place of story, a realm where the littlest person is fearless, kind, strong, and brave.

Today I am thinking of the of how my life is built of words as much as out of material substances like molecules of air or water or food. I am also watching the intent activity of birds in our back garden–robins, wrens, crows, and swallows–as they seek material to build their nests, singing or scolding or advising the entire time.

Some words I am enchanted with at the moment, for no particular reason:
Scabbard
Starboard
Vellum
Pleached
Hornbeam
Vertiginous
Sump

I would enjoy knowing if you have any current favorite words at the moment–and, if so, do you simply savor them or do you find them useful?

Until tomorrow!

Leslie

4 thoughts on “Poem in Process: #10–April 10, 2016

  1. I am so glad! And you remind me of a word I learned long ago but had slipped from view for me. I am going to look up “palimpsest” this morning–something to do with paper making? Why, in my brain, is it mixed in with “pentimento” from the world of painting? To the dictionary!

  2. Wonderful words! And two (sparger and nepenthene) I will have to look up–oh, happy day!

  3. Lovely poem! I’m really enjoying your daily poems.

    I recently encountered “palimpsest”, and that brought back memories of the best times in graduate school.

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