I’m a bit late with this, but with any luck anyone reading here knows not to wait for official proclamations before reading, enjoying, and being moved by poetry. It’s been a busy and difficult few weeks here. We’ve been busy with calving, one cow (Laura’s very first 4H heifer) lost both of her twins so we are milking her. Or rather, Laura and Tom are milking her, and I am responsible for finding things to do with 12 liters of milk a day. I have been making yogurt, tapioca pudding, cheesy potato soup, and more. I have also realized that I am beginning to slog through the mud of depression and anxiety, not from the deaths of my parents, but from the consequences thereof, which are a mountainous mess.
What kicked me into gear for a poetry month was the news of Canadian poet Gary Hyland, who died last week at age 70 of ALS, or Lou Gherig’s disease. Today on the CBC radio show, The Next Chapter, host Shelagh Rogers replayed her last conversation with Gary Hyland, with poet Lorna Crozier reading his “A Safe and Easy Thing”, which is a marvelous poem for Poetry Month. Pudding on a spoon, indeed.
A Safe and Easy Thing
by Gary Hyland
Don’t stop reading, Mildred.
There’s no need to be afraid.
This is not a poem. Pretend
you can hear me speaking,
pretend I am in a small room
far away playing the music
pictures happy in your head.
See? You don’t need to think.
The words are small and easy,
the lines are short, the print
large, like an advertisement.
Nothing will happen to you,
nothing to buy or believe or give,
like pudding, pudding on a spoon.
No one will ask what this means.
No one will care you’ve read it.
It is almost over and nothing
has happened. Not the sniff
of a mention of something odd,
nothing shifty, nothing fancy,
not one unpleasant anything.
You can be proud of yourself.
Should there be a power failure,
should the bubble puddings stop,
in the cough and shuffle silence
here’s something nice you can say
to your friends who never read,
not even signs or recipes.
Once I read a whole page of words
that my husband set into chunks.
It was easy, really, very easy.
It was about itself and me
and I could forget it right away.
That’s something to flaunt safely.
It’s not as if you’d read a poem.
* * *
Poetry and Poetry Month posts from the Farm School archives (there is also a green “Poetry” tab above at the top of this blog, second from the right):
National Poetry Month 2010
National Poetry Month 2009: Essential Pleasures and Happy National Poetry month!
Something different, a list of poetry books and other poetic resources
How I got my kids to like poetry and broccoli
More poetry aloud, with PennSound
Poetry Is Life, and some Great Books too
A monthlong celebration of delight and glory and oddity and light (National Poetry Month 2008)
Adding even more poetry to your life, just in time for National Poetry Month (National Poetry Month 2006)
“Feed the lambs”: On the difference between poems for children and children’s poetry, Part 1 and Part 2
Thoughts on The Barefoot Book of Classic Poems and classic poetry
An appreciation of John Updike and light verse
Langston Hughes, the “social poet”
Eugene Field, “the children’s poet”, and his plea for the classics, for ambitious boys and girls
Robert Browning, with another plea and an explanation of how children learn best
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