Sunday, March 03, 2013

Your Sunday Poem

This by Catherine Doty, from "180 More, Extraordinary Poems for Every Day," selected by Billy Collins. A good example of how poetry can give such unexpected pleasure.

Outside the Mainway Market

Every day, our mother says,
kids die on those goddamed things,
and she nods at the lone yellow horse
with the red vinyl bridle
and four black, shining hooves
like police hat brims.
Not only do we stop our five-part
begging, we walk wide around the beast,
though Mary brushes the coin box
with her sleeve.

Rigid in flight, the great horse's legs
flange out towards us.  Not one of us argues.
We hold onto our mother's coat, cross
several streets, touch the dog we always touch
when we walk home, fingering
his freckled snout.  Then we scream
and run in the yard while supper cooks,
and the sky shudders pale for some seconds
before it darkens, as if in that lavender moment,
three blocks away, a child drops
the reins and gasps as his shoes fly off,
and plumes of smoke rise
from the crown of his hand-knit hat.


Alon Perlman said...

How wickedly marvelous is a child's imagination.
No wonder Billy picked that one.
But I daresay Mother's admonition,
may had more to do with the housekeeper's reluctance to part with a Quarter (or was it a Nickel then) on every trip to the store.

Sewertoons AKA Lynette Tornatzky said...

Wonderful poem Ann! Nice to have a gray day to have the time inside to sit and think.

Alon, I think you have found the real reason for instilling fear. An economic one. Hmmm. Never mind for now where that thought leads.

I think back, as this poem nudges you to do, to the crazy things I heard as a kid with the equally illogical reasons for not doing or for doing something. There was a cartoon in some magazine or paper the other day with a kid looking at the forkful of food posing as an airplane that would crash if he didn't eat it with the caption being something like, "Let it crash."

Sometimes we don't really get rid of this parental persuasional crapola as adults.....

Churadogs said...

Not to mention the magical thinking kids engage in. Step on a crack, break your mother's back. Eat an orange seed and an orange tree will grow in your tummy. Tell a lie and your lips will stick together and you'll starve to death.

Adults often don't have a clue that the world, to a kid, is a brand new place, their received information is literal and they don't understand metaphor or hyperbole, so saying, "You kids are making so much noise my head's gonna explode," can have . . . interesting consequences in a kids mind.

But the great thing about this poem is how it leads you down a pleasant, amusing path, then tags you with that last line which turns the whole poem, and you, on your head.

Sunday I'll post one that pulls the same trick, but this time, it'll cut to the heart. (One reason poems can be so risky -- in the hands of a master, they can be a nearly lethal shiv.

Sewertoons AKA Lynette Tornatzky said...

Hmmm. Upsides and downsides to being a kid alright!

One of my mom's favorite sayings, when asked by a shriveled-up nosed, curled-down lower lipped me about what that "horrible looking" dish for dinner was, "it's poison!" Fortunately for me, this was always a lie!