The Blue Pitcher

that which may be filled and emptied

Month: August, 2012

First Tooth

For weeks, Ella, I have been absently fingering your gums, feeling for the inevitable, and so it shouldn’t have surprised me this morning when I reached my thumb in and felt the sharp of your first tooth. On Sunday, after playing outside, your sister came in and handed me an acorn so flawless it seemed more like a piece of art called “acorn” than a real acorn. It is tooth-hard and perfect brown, and I can’t for the life of me imagine how an animal might squirrel itself in to get at its meat. Now, it rains, and you sleep, and I think of all the foods you’ll touch with that one perfect tooth: of the avocado I gave you around lunchtime and the bananas I’ll feed you in the morning, of the Cheerios that will come and the peas and the candy. In graduate school, I had a friend who seemed always to dream of losing her teeth, and she recounted those dreams as we walked the city streets: she had coughed, she said, and when she looked into her palm, it was filled with teeth. In Chinese culture it is sometimes said that you lose a tooth for every lie you tell. Maybe now, sweet girl, with the thunder, I am wondering if you have given me some truth with this one new tooth. In just a few days, I return to work; already I ache for you.

Remembering Why I Teach

Today I drove in the rain to the Bronx where I taught poetry to children at the School for the Visually Impaired and Blind, and a boy named Infinite wrote of his love for music, of how the beat keeps him alive; and another boy wrote of the sound of thunder, how it reminds him of the warmth of his grandmother’s house in Guyana; and then there was a girl named Armani who wrote an ode to her closet; and another kid who wrote of how his mean, toothy dog was as silent as a ghost and as prideful as his father.

Towards the end of the morning, when  the rain seemed to be slowing, there was another boy who wanted, he wrote, nothing more than to sleep on a poem, to bury his head inside of it and enter the endless dreamworld. Now back in Brooklyn, I still hold José in my mind, see his fingers running across his braille page, hear the lilt of his voice while he reads about words: so soft, he says, and safe.