Thursday, 7 November 2013

"Social Studies": A Sonnet

I must say that my own poems don't get many views on this blog but, on the other hand, the really good ones by famous poets don't get them, either. Does this mean that we write equally well?

Perhaps not.

Here is a poem I wrote about three years ago, while watching a high school student preparing for a Social Studies test. So that I wouldn't distract her, I had moved from my usual place at the front of the class to a desk behind her. I was thus able to observe the positions of the neck and shoulder blade referred to in the poem, and I wrote the poem as she studied.

The shoulders’ stress, the angled blade of bone,
the neck—these reflect the pain that’s stencilled
clearly on her face. She bites her pencil
and faces down the world’s whole past alone.
The textbook takes a dessicating tone,
removing love and horror from the facts that still
ring changes on the world and always will,
beyond her knowledge till her world has grown.

I wish that I could find another way
to stand her in some former time and place
and see how blue the sky was on that day,
how cold the sea that splashes on her face,
how joyous dolphins, leaping from the sea,
how joyless we, so far from delphin grace.

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