National Poetry Month (NaPoMo) reminds us to buy poetry books and journals, study poetry forms and techniques, and, perhaps, let our poems address memories or issues we need to work through and/or commemorate.
Both occurred for me, for example, when a childhood memory stayed with me vividly for decades, but I wasn’t sure why until I revisited the event in this poem:
Down Kinney Town
by Mary Harwell Sayler
Feet bare, the girls came up today,
and Mama gave them ouch-grown shoes
that once belonged to me or Kay,
but, oh, I longed to give them too.
Two girls they were: soiled blonde, unkempt –
not like Mama’s girls who shone
in new-sewn clothes and often dreamt
of finer galaxies than home.
With clean hands bare, could I, a child,
share much with girls from a small shack, wild?
But one said, “Come,” so I went down –
down the tangled path to Kinney Town.
Theirs was adventure I could play.
A cold potato rationed me –
eyeless, grown in soil, unbent. They
gave that last leftover. Free.
Then home I went with backward look.
As I worked on that poem, I realized what bothered me was the amazing generosity of those two girls, who had almost nothing to give but needed to give something. In my naivety, I most likely ate their dinner, but the poem, which I included in my book Living in the Nature Poem published by Hiraeth Press in 2012, also reminded me why I still love cold baked potatoes.