Early memories

Hi everyone,

I just finished responding to questions for an upcoming interview, including one about a favorite memory. I value memories, especially those earliest ones. I can think of four glimpses of me when I was three.

In one case I was playing in the basement. My parents kept a (wait for it . . . ) turtle down there. (Is there any wonder that I goo foff with turtles today?) Anyway I was sliding it across the concrete floor until my mother realized what I was doing and came to the poor creature’s rescue. Later in my life I wrote the book, CONNECTING DOTS, which was all memory-based, and I included a poem about that poor creature in our basement that suffered at my childish hands. Thanks, Wendy Murray, for being such a sensitive editor for that highly personal collection. Some of you may have read the poem but here it is.

Daydreams
by David L. Harrison

I remember the turtle
beneath the basement stair.
I see him sleeping there.

Maybe he’s dreaming of clover,
shade beside a tree,
days when he was free.

When he awakes he lurches,
searches through the gloom
around across the room,
scratches at the stones..
Methodically he crawls,
scrapes against the walls.

The walls mark his prison,
but even if he knows,
on and on he goes.

I remember the turtle –
when I was only three –
whose courage was lost on me.

© Boyds Mills Press, 2004.
By permission of the author.

Anyone else have an early memory to share? Have you drawn from it the inspiration for a poem or story?

Thinking back . . .

Hi everyone,

Jeff’s plane was weather delayed so now both he and Robin arrive today. Been thinking about them, waxing nostalgic. Here’s a poem from CONNECTING DOTS about the time in our back yard in Kansas City when I was struggling to erect a new swing set and had more help than I needed. I think I posted this some time ago but here it is again.

SONG OF THE SWINGSET
David L. Harrison

The three-headed creature
huddles together in the yard.

In the space between the big head
and the instructions on the grass,
the helper heads bob in and out.

The three-headed creature sings to itself
two simple songs at once.

When are we going to get to swing?
Stop playing with the screwdriver.

When are we going to get to swing?
Where did you drop the washers?

When are we going to get to swing?
Let’s look for Section C.

When are we going to get to swing?
Why don’t you play with Mommy?

Jigs

Hi everyone,

When I wrote the poems for THE ALLIGATOR IN THE CLOSET, one — “Death of a Wasp” — struck my editor, Wendy Murray, as just the right voice for another collection. The poem made her teary and she wondered if I could create a whole book of poems that struck with the same force.

Eventually this led to the book, CONNECTING DOTS, an autobiographical collection beginning with my early memories from age 3 through my age at the time the book was completed at 65. The opening poem is about our dog, an English Bulldog named Jigs.

I was four years old and playing in the back yard. Jigs was napping on the top step into the back porch. I needed to go to the bathroom rather urgently and went dashing up the steps. Jigs stood up but wasn’t inclined to move. Here’s the poem.

JIGS

Jigs stands on the top step,
blocking my way inside,
feet planted,
back sagging like
he’s holding up the world.

“Move, Jigs.”
I push him hard.

Wheezing,
gurgling deep down,
his wet mouth opens.

I shove his shoulder.
“Move!” I say.

Pug nose wrinkling,
mouth moves,
snaps.

“Jigs!”

He jumps off
with a rude noise
for the quieter shade
of the yard.

I stare in shock
at what he’s done,
feel the pain begin
like fear.

Holding my thumb,
I run in, screaming
my disbelief.

My Word of the Month poem for January

Hi everyone,

I’m going to be in another of those inevitable jams soon so I may not be able to contribute an original poem inspired by our word: FIRST. I’ll do my best but in case I fail, here’s one from CONNECTING DOTS that I felt like sharing again. I’m not sure if this one has been posted previously or not.

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT

Meeting Jule
David L. Harrison

Mom holds the baby,
we listen to agency talk.
Dad’s quiet.

Mom hands him the little girl.
I’ve never seen him hold a baby,
didn’t know he knew how.
After a while it’s my turn.

She’s so small!
Pretty little dimpled hands,
miniature fingers hold my own,
eyes blue as a porcelain doll’s
blink at me.

She stretches,
yawns with her whole face,
tiny lids slide shut
like delicate window shades.

Talk goes on, but what’s to say?
She’s picked out her big brother,
I hold my sleepy sister in my arms.

What form is this?

Hi everyone,

I’ve been talking with Renee La Tulippe about unique forms that we sometimes stumble upon when an idea leads us into unexpected quarters. Two of mine in particular come to mind. Here’s one that I’ve posted before without comment on its tightly locked rhyme scheme. I don’t know if this an established form. If anyone knows of a name for it, let us know.
David's first fish
THINGS WE PRIZE
David L. Harrison
(from Connecting Dots)

Hidden in the mountains, fed by snow,
The lake was small. We stayed there every year
And got to know our neighbors camping near
In tents like toadstools growing in a row.

I found a secret pool, a little nook
Where I could lie and watch the fish below
But no amount of coaxing made them go
For worms, or bits of bacon on my hook.

At last a fish too hungry to be wise
Took my bait so hard its body shook.
“A fish!” I cried. “Big enough to cook!”
I held it high to show its mighty size.

Even though the lake is far away
I remember posing with my prize
And grinning at our neighbors’ happy cries
Just as though it happened yesterday.

I’ve caught some bigger fish but this is clear,
They’ll never match the thrill I felt that day.
No matter what those larger trophies weigh
The first fish will always be most dear.