Friday, February 13, 2009

you are definitely the bread and the knife.

Yesterday was the regional competition for Poetry Out Loud (a national poetry recitation contest). My student Will, our school's representative, did an excellent job and placed in the top 5 which means he goes on to states in 2 weeks. One student recited this Billy Collins poem as his choice yesterday and it made me smile for the rest of the day thinking about it.

So here is a Valentine's poem for you to read to someone you love in the kind of way this poem describes.
Mine is for Sam, but sometimes he really is the pine-scented air for me, but probably not the pigeon.

Litany
by Billy Collins

You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass

and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker

and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.

There is just no way you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general's head,
but you are not even close

to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner

nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,

that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley,

and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman's tea cup.
But don't worry, I am not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and--somehow-- the wine.

1 comments:

beth said...

After hearing the 13 semi-finalists on Thursday, I have to say that "Litany" was also my favorite of all the beautiful poems. But the best part of that experience for me was seeing all of those high school kids so EXCITED about poetry. You get a lot of credit for that Emilie. Congratulations for all that you have accomplished with your kids and for the fact that your student Will was one of the finalists. What a gift you have given your students.