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

Make a Face

When I bought this game for my granddaughter, I nearly bought one for myself.  The idea is to create faces from the 160 facial features — photographs by Saxton Freymann of street debris and other found objects, leaves, shells, and branches. My inner adult overrode the inner child, admonishing the idea as totally juvenile. Had my inner teen been awake she’d have rolled her eyes and retorted, “Well, yeah. Your point?”

During our week’s visit with Olivia and her family, I got my chance. Olivia and I built face after face. She went on to play with another toy while I made faces for a while longer. Each face had its own personality, its own emotional aura. Some were silly; some were grumpy; some were quite lovely. What a brilliant concept — creative, simple, endless possibilities.  Order a set of About Face. If your inner adult balks, tell her to take a walk.  Or better yet, invite her along to play with you. and if you make a face, send it along for me to share.



Wish You Were Here

Once upon a time we sent vacation postcards to friends and family back home. Now we’re all back home on (working) staycations and everyone else is far away. When the pandemic hit, I began sending postcards to older friends from synagogue. Due to the risks of communal living during Covid, their worlds contracted suddenly and drastically.

It surprised me how much fun it’s been and how much people enjoy recieving them.  A postcard allows me to pen a quick hello, I miss you, how are you? I love choosing beautiful images to share and get a shot of pleasure imagining my recipients’ smiles when they arrive. Who gets mail anymore, right?

When I ran out of my stash, I began making them. Sometimes I create abstracts on larger sheets of cardstock and then cut them into 4 x 6 cards. Other times I paint or collage something small on an individual card. You don’t have to be an artist to do this. You just have to have a sense of fun and let the good feelings you have for your recipient come through. For a treat I bought a box of 100 flower-themed postcards — ten cards by ten different artists. A true garden of good wishes waiting to be given. I’m working my way through the box, planting a bit of joy with the help of a 35¢ stamp.


She might be too strange to send, but I had fun painting her.


postcard credits, above: Debra Darvick
l. to r.: Adam Rodriquez; Loretta Montagnar; Maud H. Purdy.  

Call It Play

Why is it so hard to do the thing our heart cries to us to do? Why do we, okay, why do I, stall? Why do I let go of the tow rope when I’m sailing along only to tumble beneath the surface into cold waters of self-doubt and recrimination? Fear? Sloth?

When I listen, when I give my heart what she wants — to make art — we’re both so happy. Maybe I shouldn’t call it “making art.” Maybe I should just call it playing with my watercolors and acrylics, my markers and paper trove. Make implies a finished product and finished product is weighted with judgment. Make implies an end while play remains firmly within a borderless present.  Yes. Yes. Yes.