Tuesday, June 4, 2013

On the learning of children (Poem)

I decided to choose a writing prompt this morning to spark a poem, and being a denizen of the Twitterverse, the natural one seemed to be this: Create a poem using the first sentence of the top three tweets in my timeline when I open Twitter. Here is the strange result. The Twitter quotes are the first lines of each stanza.

I spy with my little eye
through a keyhole, you squint and catch the edge of scenes
a domestic outerworld, framed in iron,
cold as old bones in the jaws of winter.
children, running, shouting,
tormenting and delighting each other in savage play
cutting teeth on the flinches and laughter of their peers

Your child is calling someone a disrespectful name.
It's a name you say you've never used, never wanted to hear in your house; and yet
here it is, spilling out of this child
who's old enough to understand how it hurts, and says it anyway.
(Or, perhaps, because).
Since when do we call people fat? you flail, helpless, horrified
caught inevitably in the insult to ego that you could raise a child
who buys, and sells, the line of contempt.
Maybe it's time to let go of that idea that you control anything about this child
(or any child).
Time to realise that empathy, respect and kindness
are modelled and learned, not forcibly taught
and that your child's words are theirs to own, theirs to moderate
not a mirror to your hopelessly optimistic soul.

Complete this sentence.
When your child grows, you want them to be ____
the blank space gestures possibilities, and exclusions,
and you think, as you watch the warmth around her enfold her playmates,
watch her reach out with gentleness as well as acid
that the answer is, has to be,
whatever she is made to be
a whole person, drawn on the stars
carrying her own light and her own darkness before her
as she surmounts the world.

- Kathy, 4/6


  1. What great idea for a poetry prompt. Love what you came up with and how you connected the most random of things :)

    Hello from #teamIBOT

  2. That is a great writing prompt - though I would only be able to cope with one at a time I think. I really like the last stanza and the last 3 lines particularly!

  3. Oh that's very cool. Not just the poem, but the whole idea of using twitter as a prompt. And people say social media is a bad thing!