Thursday, March 08, 2018

Poetry Friday: The Light I Collect

I'm in the throes of grading season.  I mean, sure, it's always grading season in my world, but it's a particularly intense time right now, with projects from my seventh graders and a big writing deadline coming up tomorrow for my eighth graders.  I've been planning a Birthday Gifts Edition of Poetry Friday, but I can't take the time or the mental bandwidth right now to work on it.  Maybe next week.  Meanwhile, here's a little foretaste, an excerpt from "The Light I Collect," a poem in Aimee Nezhukumatathil's book Lucky Fish.  I bought this book with birthday money and I will review it in my Birthday Gifts Edition.

If a man in China can keep ten thousand dollars' worth
of caterpillars in a metal box underneath his bed
for medicine, then I want to collect flakes of light
for those winter months where we go a whole week

without seeing a slice of sun.  The light I want to collect
is free.  Can't be sold as a cure for muscle ache
or to ward off evil eye.  I write this in August.  It should be
illegal to talk about snow in Western New York now.

from "The Light I Collect," by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

I know that many of my readers are in the throes of another kind of depressing season, the one mentioned in the poem: winter.  I wish I could send you some "flakes of light," some "slices of sun" from my part of the world, where this is the most beautiful time of the year.  Just as I'm trying to cling to my knowledge that I have students who are doing great work, resisting my instinct to focus all my attention on the ones who aren't, as though nobody is.

Let's collect the light and store it up for the dark times!

This week's roundup is here.


Amy Ludwig VanDerwater said...

Wow. I just love this. Thank you. xx

jama said...

Love the excerpt and the idea of collecting flakes of light for darker times. Good luck with your grading!

Brenda Harsham said...

I remember with fondness the light of Western New York in August. Finger lake, grape ripening sun that feels like the opposite of a baptism, a drying of the soul, a purifying.

Matt Forrest Esenwine said...

That first sentence is everything...I would love to be able to collect flakes of light for these long winter days!

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

I'm collecting the light of this post, Ruth! Hope you get past the grading doldrums soon.

Linda B said...

I remember that intense 'grading' season, one fraught with danger in a variety of ways. I'm glad you will take the time to celebrate in a quieter, even more light-filled day. Looking forward to more from your new book.

Tabatha said...

I have to many caterpillars make ten thousand dollars' worth??
Beautiful poem, thanks for sharing it.
I think we all have to cling to the good stuff. Before I came to your blog, I saw: "Algorithms that maximize attention give an advantage to negative messages. People tend to react more to inputs that land low on the brainstem."

Donna Smith said...

This poem reminds me of the book "Frederick" by Leo Lionni, that I'd read to my student's in December or January.

Linda B said...

It was late last night when I read your post. I must have forgotten to comment, Ruth. It's a beautiful poem excerpt. I hope you do share more on your birthday post! And hope the grades/time goes well this week.

Mitchell Linda said...

The gorgeous flakes of western NY light.....they raised me! I love this poem. And, whoa did you hit the nail on a head. I struggle with recognizing the good working students as my focus is pulled toward the ones who are not. It's tough for me to turn that around. I've wondered why I am like this and how I can change it. Poetry of course, is my cure....the box under my bed has ten thousand words at least. Mwah! Great big kiss to you. Can't wait for birthday edition gifts!

Mary Lee said...

We may have two (TWO!!) blue sky days in a row here in grey Ohio. I'm saving up these scraps of light to help me get through to summer!