#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book

mormoni

The terrestrial kingdom was Protestant heaven,
the celestial, Mormon heaven,
but even the telestial surpassed all understanding.

While my father had hovered in earthly purgatory,
I had been living in a heaven on earth,
my mother, in the hell she had created for herself.

My childhood had been one of opaqueness,
my adulthood, of startling transparency.

If God had wanted Patrick to live,
he would live without a machine,
but by that rationale,
if God had wanted him to die,
no machine on earth should have kept him in limbo.

When I’d believed my father dead,
I’d never wept,
but when I saw him alive & dying,
it was then that I finally grieved,
for his death finally became real to me.

#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book

mormoni

“Do no harm” & “to thine own self be true,”
was my David–
a man of many sensibilities–
but he would never worship that which he could not see.

I hadn’t realized how dead Mother had been
till I saw how alive the Church had made her.
They were as Lazarus,
raising up a new Laurie,
her old soul not made new
but replaced.

Beth & Gerald Foster had been like my fairy godparents,
their diner turning back into a pumpkin,
fertilized by silver bells & cockleshells.

Life pulled us forward now,
& our future began to steal from our past,
diminishing the memories I’d once held close.

In Sacrament, we took Him inside us,
in Sunday school, we learned about Him inside us,
but in Relief Society,
we separated ourselves from the one
we had become one with.

#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book

mormoni

Mother was like an onion–
her many layers gradually being peeled back–
causing the tears to come quicker.
Her history had not been known
but was still being discovered,
&, like the universe,
would never be all the way known.

Though we had never gone anywhere outside the U.S.,
I traveled through David’s lectures,
through the tastes & smells of unfamiliar foods,
the sounds of music, the sight of photos,
the touch of artifacts.
He didn’t take me around the world
but brought the world to me.

According to David,
God was either a figment of imagination
or an extraterrestrial with powers
more advanced than ours.

Caitlin was denim & lace,
I, satin & pearls,
but Mother was cut from a different cloth;
whatever it was had a high thread count.
Other women were nylon & polyester,
but she was like the finest Egyptian cotton,
her skin like the softest silk–
even the wool she pulled over my eyes
was vibrantly colored.

David believed Jesus was a great prophet,
that Jesus only believed He was God
because others had told Him so,
for hadn’t there been many Messiahs
before & since?
Perhaps Jesus had simply been better
at branding himself.

#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book

mormoni

He’d never read to me Mother Goose
or Dr. Seuss,
but the Dead Poets,
& the works of a particular student of his–
Marianne something–
who fancied herself a poetess.
We’d never seen puppets teaching shapes & colors
but musicals as bright as candy corn.

For our family tree was such that
if there were older generations left,
I could not see them through the leaves at the top—
where cobwebs had netted them together
through the shadows my mother had placed there.

The graven image of Moroni topped
Mormon temples like a wedding cake,
the interior of which were supposed to be like the
Celestial Kingdom of Heaven on Earth,
but my dream heaven was high on a mountaintop
where snowflakes fell in Spirograph-like creations,
or riding an elephant on a beach,
the sun at our backs,
or deep in the bayou under the Spanish moss
where the crawdads sang—
anywhere in nature,
where the words of the poets
were painted on the sky.

They all spoke on the Law of Chastity,
& you would think there was only one law to break
but to them,
breaking this law led to every other sin—
abortion, poverty, & eternal damnation.

The idea that God had once been
as we once were,
that He had been dust imbued
with the breath of life–
an inhabitant of another earth–
frightened me.
I wanted Him to have always been–
without beginning,
without end.

Book Review: Blue

Blue

As part of my Post-K Summer Reading Boot Camp:
https://sarahleastories.com/2019/06/08/post-k-summer-reading-boot-camp-2019

The more I read this book, the more I liked it. The keyhole cutouts in the delightful thickness of these pages seemed unnecessary, but my daughter enjoyed locating them; the book’s square shape and the large, simple, bold font is perfection. The lush, sumptuous color—bright but not unnaturally so—so beautifully textured, is stunning. Most of these pages, given the panoramic treatment in double-page spreads that bleed into the spine, would make perfect nursery art: the deep, twilight blue butterflies were like something out of a Technicolor fairy tale, the water shooting out of the garden hose captured the summertime magic of childhood, the granular texture of the snow against the smooth, sable brown of the tree was striking, and the brushstrokes depicting the frothy whitecaps looked so real, I almost expected to feel seafoam.

Simply titled, Blue has a very organic feel—a certain spirituality and harmony with nature (including human nature). It is a childlike, coming-of-age tale.

The concept is rather interesting, for how many unexpected ways can we describe blue using the word blue (i.e. besides light, dark, powder, navy, etc.)? It’s almost like a series of paintings turned into a poem. Everything that was described as blue was connected with an emotion, a state of being, or something gifted to us by the Creator; Laura Vaccaro Seeger totally nailed midnight blue.

Though few words, it tells a story. Each two-word set “maybe blue,” “true blue,” etc., I treated as the title of the story that the pictures painted. Blue is open-ended enough where you can add to the story, but not so open-ended that there is no story. I’m not a fan of wordless picture books (and this was close to it), but the way I felt while “reading” this timeless tale of friendship—the boy growing up while his dog grew old—resonated with me. No preaching, no message—just life—distilled into the most poignant parts.

It was sweet that the boy (now a young man who had yet to befriend another dog) met his true love through their love of dogs—her dog actually seems to choose him first, as if it sensed another dog lover, leading (or rather, dragging) her to her destiny.

My daughter liked this one, and I enjoyed reading it to her. Blue is the kind of book I read when I want not just to make a memory but a connection. If there was a complete set on all the colors, I would buy everyone one of these books.

Suggested activity: Numbers, letters, shapes, and colors are some of the earliest building blocks of learning. When I was a child, getting Crayola’s 64-count with the built-in sharpener was something quite magical. Try having your child come up with naming their own colors (they don’t have to be blue; I was always intrigued by names like periwinkle and lavender; if your child is older, you can come up with double adjectives, like mascarpone-white or tiramisu-tan. Someone has to come up with all of those names, after all. For a field trip, go to a paint store and get a handful of paint sample cards (which I’ve used to make Christmas cards: https://onelittleproject.com/paint-chip-christmas-cards/). And take time out to visit the author’s website. It’s gorgeous! https://studiolvs.com/

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37534395-blue

Book Review: Night Job

Night Job

As part of my Post-K Summer Reading Boot Camp:
https://sarahleastories.com/2019/06/08/post-k-summer-reading-boot-camp-2019 

Night Job is the touching story of a little boy who accompanies his dad to work the third shift, cleaning up a middle school on Friday nights.  The idea of “take your child to work day” is a cool concept–it’s good for children to see how hard their parents work to provide for them, though I was surprised that the dad was able to bring his son because of liability issues, but that’s another lesson for another age.

Books that highlight the special relationship between fathers and sons touch my heart, for it is from dads that boys learn how to be men, including how to treat women.  No mother is shown in this, so I assumed the dad was single. I also inferred that this little family is impoverished–from the dad’s vocation as a custodian, eating egg salad sandwiches, and living in what looked like an extended stay facility–but the author does a splendid job of showing that their poverty is only limited to material things, not in adventure or love.  

However, this book was much too short; we see the gymnasium, the cafeteria, and the library, but not the classrooms and not enough of the exhilarating ride on the motorcycle, capturing the city when it’s sleeping.  There weren’t enough background details in the book–I couldn’t make out the name of the middle school or the particulars of the newspaper they were reading (much more detail was given with the baseball game). Details such as these would’ve added interest to the pages; a few more sensory details (touch, taste, smell) would’ve made it shine like a full moon.

I didn’t care for the building sighing and the chair whispering, Come–it didn’t fit in with the rest of the story, which is very Point A to Point B in its storytelling style.  This was realism, not escapism. There is also some odd wording, such as “a ring of keys as big as the rising moon” (moons don’t rise) and “from stem to stern,” which is nautical terminology.  

On recursive readings, I realized there was no dialogue–just the little boy telling a story–but it worked.  There is no conversation between the dad and his son when they’re having lunch; though the fact that there was conversation is probably understood (i.e. they didn’t just sit in the courtyard eating in complete silence), it would’ve been nice to mention what they talked about (e.g. baseball, cafeteria food, etc.) 

Though the dad is often busy working, the boy is always with him, not wandering off by himself–shooting baskets in the gym, listening to the radio in the cafeteria (rather than half-watching a television), reading his dad a story before falling asleep in the library, and even pitching in by helping clean the hallway floors.  

I also liked that it showed them doing lots of reading–the boy with the books, the dad with the newspaper, and not vegging out in front of a TV after a long night’s work.  (It was also nice to see an apple core instead of a snack cake wrapper in the lunch box.) It doesn’t show the dad playing with his son but just being there for him and with him, which is what a lot of parenthood is actually like.  Kids like to entertain themselves more than adults realize.  

Other goodreads reviewers mentioned that the language was too advanced for the boy’s age, such as “dusky highway” and “rising swell of dreams”; I agree.  I love the imagery these words evoke, but it must fit the character. To make such language more believable, the author would’ve had to tell the story in the third-person, and it would’ve lost so much.

The illustrations aren’t beautiful, but they tell the story beautifully.  The fact that most of them are gray-hued to fit the nocturnal atmosphere makes them perfect.

Overall, Night Job is a sweet book about a simple life–a life a lot of kids could probably relate to.

Suggested activity:  If your job offers a “Take your Child to Work Day,” take them up on it.  If this isn’t a possibility, find books about your profession or trade.  Even if your job is considered an “unskilled job,” reiterate to your child that all jobs are important and detail their purposes.  This will teach them to respect all those who put in an honest day’s work.  In relation to this book, tell them what the school would look like without someone to clean it.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38256476-night-job

#Micropoetry Monday: The Writer’s Life

typewriter-1170657_1920

She was criticized for writing puff pieces
as light & airy as meringue,
but only those who knew her best
knew that she had many thoughts beyond
food & entertainment & all the little extras
that connected people of all kinds–
she just didn’t have the time
nor the energy
to deal with hate mail.

Blackie & Blondie had journalists for parents,
& so they grew up being asked
Who, What, Where, When, & so forth.
They learned how to remember
the important things,
so that they could tell the stories
that were true.
These stories they told of others
inspired them to live the kind of lives
worth writing about.
Because their parents had asked them questions,
they had learned to do the same
with everyone they met.
Though they’d been called inquisitive at best
& intrusive at worst,
they did learn something most valuable,
& that was how to take an interest
(& a very human one at that)
in other people.

She wrote the life she wanted,
only to realize that as she mirrored her life
after her own creations,
she was writing her future.