It’s April 1, which means it’s National Poetry Month in the US once again. Which, in turn, means I’m going to try to post a poem a day here throughout the month. I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now, and to change it up a little bit this year I’m going to record the poems as well as posting them. You’ll be able to hear them by clicking on the poem title in the post.
This is not going to be a perfect effort. In some cases, I’ve practiced reading the poem before recording it. In others, I just read it. I’m still working out sound editing and which is the best way to record. There may be the occasional background noise. I really wanted to do this, and decided that if I waited until I had it perfect, it wouldn’t ever happen. So I’m learning as I go, which is often the best way. I hope you enjoy the results.
Today’s poem was a gift to me from my friend Liz. It’s not only wonderful, it also fulfills two criteria that I try to hit when curating poetry for April. It’s a suitable bit of nonsense for April Fool’s Day, and it’s a magnificent riff on William Carlos Williams’ “This Is Just to Say.”
This Is Just to Say
I have integrated
the random variables
that were in
the sample space
you were probably
for a density function
they were continuous
and so infinite
by Liz Twarog
These two people. I love them a lot. We traveled to Austin, TX together a couple of years ago for the Renegade Craft Fair. While we were lingering on a hillside one evening, waiting to see several hundred thousand bats (whole other story), I took a picture of their shoes (apparently I mainly take pictures of them that don’t show their faces). They both wear awesome shoes, and I loved how these particular pairs of shoes looked standing right next to each other. Their anniversary was coming up, and I flippantly thought “I’ll embroider the shoes and give it to them next month! It’ll be great!” Hubris. I did embroider the shoes, but it took me almost two years.
I took the original photograph, and converted it to a line drawing in Photoshop. Then I transferred it to linen and stitched it. A lot of it didn’t transfer very clearly – the plaid hardly came out at all, so most of that is free-handed and Shawn’s shoes aren’t as detailed as I’d planned. With Shana’s shoes, I had the advantage of having the same pair in my closet for reference. When it was finished, I steamed and starched it and stitched it onto a thin layer of cork, which I then glued onto a small painted bulletin board. Then I sent it off. It’s been a part of my days for a long time, and I kind of miss it; but not as much as I miss them. I love you guys, and I miss your shoes.
Monkey! She’s a yellow lab who gives hugs. What could be better than that? Unless it’s a yellow lab who gives hugs while wearing a knitted babushka.
It’s been fifteen years since a very dear friend introduced me to a wonderful book. Greensleeves by Eloise Jarvis McGraw is a beloved classic of children’s literature, and if you Google it you’ll find hundreds of people who have been moved and comforted and delighted by this charming story. You’ll also find that most of those people are mystified as to why the book has never been reprinted, especially considering that McGraw was an established author of children’s books, and many of her other titles are readily available, whether in print or out of print. I don’t know the answer to that mystery, but I do know that for many years it’s been difficult to find copies, and they’re usually priced as rare books and well out of my range. My friend’s copy was actually a photocopy in a plastic and paper binder, with a convoluted system of double-sided pages that kept me flipping and turning and mistaking and skipping pages and going back to figure out what I’d missed all the way through. It was worth every minute to enjoy this consummately satisfying story, and I’ve wanted my own copy ever since. Every time I did find one, it was at least $100 and I just couldn’t afford it. My mother is a reknowned booksale scavenger, and she’s been keeping an eye out for me for close to ten years now. We were talking last week and she mentioned that she still hasn’t seen a copy in person, but she did happen to notice that several copies had suddenly appeared online at pretty reasonable prices. She didn’t order one because they were library copies and listed as marked or in less than perfect condition, and she thought I might not want them. I didn’t care, and I went right for the keyboard. I found that her source had sold out, but I had a renewed sense of hope and tried turning over a couple of other bookish rocks and finally, finally found a ex-libris copy and clicked through my purchase on a true reader’s high. My long-awaited treasure arrived this week, just in time to give me a sense of spring and freshness in what has otherwise been a disheartening week. Thanks for the eagle eye shopping stamina, Mom!
It’s been more than ten years since I saw my beloved friend, but she’s coming to Chicago in two short months. I can’t wait to reread this beautiful, hopeful book and to renew our old connection, originally forged over thousands of cups of diner coffee and in countless bookstores, movie theaters and corners of this lovely city. Katie Fae, thank you for introducing me to Greensleeves; I love you and I can’t wait to see you.