Double Dutch Poetry

Reading Paul Fleischman’s Joyful Noise, Poems for Two Voices is akin to Double Dutch jump rope — you have your part, your partner has hers and when you’re in the groove, it’s pure joy.

The poems (all of them about insects) are set up in two columns. One reader takes the left column, the other the right. Some lines are read aloud in unison, others, alternatively. Sometimes you and your partner are reciting the same words, other times your words are completely different.  It’s dissonant and delightful.

Many moons ago, Emma and I would cuddle up in the chair in my bedroom and recite the poems. We loved House Crickets for the onomotopoetic chorus of “cricket cricket” that rubbed throughout the poem. The entomological narrator of Book Lice “… was born in a/fine old edition of Schiller. His fellow louse  “…passed [his] youth/in an Agatha Christie.”

I’ve never particularly feared these six-legged beings. Reciting the poems with Emma was a particular pleasure, especially when the fireflies told us, “Light is the ink we use/Night is our parchment.” How can you not fall in love with such an image and thus think a little more kindly of the “bugs” so many want to squish?

Our Double Dutch poem reciting is now the stuff of memory. Like the life of the mayfly, our time of reading poetry each night after dinner seems to have lasted only from morning till night. The next time we’re together, I’m bringing the book along. And maybe this poem, too.

We’re                              We’re
Mother                            Daughter
We part
                                          We part
Though our hearts
                                          Though our hearts

Span the miles                Span the miles
When we visit

                                          When we visit

There is joy                      There is joy

again                                   again
we part
                                             we part

taking one another           taking one another
with us                                 with us
as we go
                                              as we go.

Debra B. Darvick

Red All Over

If I hadn’t forgotten my container of red peppers to snack on while I ran errands, my husband might never have snapped this shot. Right before I left, he received the week’s challenge from his camera club: Photograph something red.

Isn’t this red-on-red totally rad? Not to mention the circle of pinkish highlights atop the pepper. I was hungry when I came home but Martin’s view of the world never fails to feed  me.

photo courtesy of Martin Darvick


Prayers from the Ark

I am so sorry that I never thought to  contact Rumer Godden before she died in 1998. She translated into English Prayers from the Ark, by Carmen Bernos de Gasztold. My mother gave me the book when I was a child. I have loved it ever since, reading these gentle words of supplication throughout my entire life. To think that I missed such an opportunity to speak with the woman who not only translated these moving prayer-peoms, but had worked with their author in the Abbye Saint Louis du Temple where she lived.

As a young summer camper, I sang about the animals who came on [the ark] “by twosies, twosies” never reckoning what the experience might actually have been.  The gentle soul that was Bernos de Gasztold did. She imagined life on the ark as lived by the mouse, praying to God to be kept safe from “the claws of that deveil with green eyes.” For ten brief and beautiful lines she becamse the audacious rooster, reminding God who actually called forth sunrise. Each animal’s supplication for compassion is our cry, our hope; their songs of gratitude are our songs. 

I wish I could thank my mother once again for giving me this beautiful book. But I have the The Prayers of the Ark, and thus, the love within her gift.