Thursday, August 03, 2006

poetry friday

Seems like all of my friends are having babies... this poem is especially for my friend Sara, whose tummy dweller is still a mystery.

For an Unborn Baby

If she's a girl,
I hope she'll stretch her wings
and grow up free, wide ranging
like a seagull, dealing with the winds
competently, swifting of currents of air,
able to live on anything she can find
in the murky sea, or even in rubbish heaps,
adapting with ease when storms drive her inland.
May she choose wisely if in the end
she settles on one name, one piece of ground.

May she banish those who'd seek to protect her
from heartbreak, or joy.
- And may he achieve no less
if he's a boy.

Janet Shepperson

And another poem, suggested by that same Sara, whose husband is a manic gardener:

Attack of the Squash People

And thus the people every year
in the valley of humid July
did sacrifice themselves
to the long green phallic god
and eat and eat and eat.
They're coming, they're on us,
the long striped gourds, the silky
babies, the hairy adolescents,
the lumpy vast adults
like the trunks of green elephants.
Recite fifty zucchini recipes!
Zucchini tempura; creamed soup;
sauté with olive oil and cumin,
tomatoes, onion; frittata;
casserole of lamb; baked
topped with cheese; marinated;
stuffed; stewed; driven
through the heart like a stake.
Get rid of old friends: they too
have gardens and full trunks.
Look for newcomers: befriend
them in the post office, unload
on them and run. Stop tourists
in the street. Take truckloads
to Boston. Give to your Red Cross.
Beg on the highway: please
take my zucchini, I have a crippled
mother at home with heartburn.
Sneak out before dawn to drop
them in other people's gardens,
in baby buggies at churchdoors.
Shot, smuggling zucchini into
mailboxes, a federal offense.
With a suave reptilian glitter
you bask among your raspy
fronds sudden and huge as
alligators. You give and give
too much, like summer days
limp with heat, thunderstorms
bursting their bags on our heads,
as we salt and freeze and pickle
for the too little to come.

Marge Piercy

review: Our Apple Tree

Our Apple Tree by Gorel Kristina Naslund. Translated by Laaren Brown. Illustrated by Kristina Digman. Roaring Brook, 2005; 2006 (1-59643-191-1) $6.95 pb

Two odd little children take us through the year of their apple tree: winter, when the children sleep curled up in its branches, but nuthatches are looking for little bugs under its bark; spring, when bees gather pollen from the apple blossoms; summer, when the apple tree grows its apples; and fall, the time for apple art and applesauce and apple pie. When the last leaves fall, the children once again curl up to sleep on the branches of the tree they love.

Originally published in Sweden, this is an appealing combination of fact and whimsy. (Oh, and in case you didn't know--the apple named Delicious? That part is pure whimsy.) It strikes me as being just on the edge of overly cute and some people will surely think it crossed over, but the small people who live in the tree, who sometimes shrink enough to curl up on an apple or rest inside a leaf, have an offbeat charm that works for me. (They remind me a bit of some of Tove Jansson's Moominvalley characters.) The translation into English is unusually readable and the unfamiliar qualities of the illustration--which often lead an American reader to an evaluation of Weird-Ass Picture Book--here just seem fresh and funny: I love the "apple party" featuring a moose, a deer, a pig in pearls, and a cow with a spring bouquet on her head. (2-5)