Sunday, December 23, 2007

NEW POEM

(Linoleum print by EPD)

PRESENTS


The other girls are going to come back after New Year's
wearing new clothes, coats, boots with leather trim
Things they got for Christmas or at
the sales after, when their mothers still
had money to spend. Necklaces
birthstone rings, charm bracelets
The Latinas will have earrings for pierced ears
At lunch everyone will talk of stereos, records
A TV for their bedroom, a room they don't share
Family at a restaurant on Christmas Eve

The doctor's daughter wows all with a
surprise trip to Acapulco
But one grade up, the mayor's kid at recess
tells about a new car in the driveway with
a giant red bow on the landau roof
Who could give someone a car
for Christmas? How is that possible?

She lies about a typewriter. Since no one ever
comes to her house, they don't know she's had it
since summer, a second-hand her father found
in an alley and cleaned up. She shows them
a poem typed on it. They don't understand the lines
or why that counts as a gift, really. But she
doesn't fit in anyhow, and her difference
is familiar. Her brother in high school got
an electric guitar. She tosses that out, and
they laugh in relief, then go on to tales
of stealing cocktail sips on New Year's Eve.



© Maggie Jochild
23 December 2007, 11:40 a.m.

2 comments:

lizacowan said...

thanks for the reminder, Mags.

And the beautiful poem.

I wonder what it will be like for my girls, returning to school after the holidays to their friends who depend on the food bank for their suppers.

My oldest, the sixth grader with the big heart, donated all the money in her change jar,$50 worth, to the classroom gift fund for kids who will not be getting the bounty that others have.

I have no idea how the money is parceled out, but I had to stop my girl from cleaning out her savings account to give to the fund.

Maggie Jochild said...

Y'know, Lize, classism is the one I have the most hope about really clobbering. I guess in part it's because we don't have the dominant culture and media constantly hammering home the idea that it's biologically determined -- no "wash of hormones in the womb" or "evolutionary differences in intelligence" fantasies to explain why some folks are poor is trotted out in every blog's comments section.

And -- if kids have adults who will simply give them the room to notice, ask questions, and do what they thinks is right, altruism keeps pace with what is usually assumed to be inborn greed.

Demand on food banks this year has doubled in most places this year, some places up 400%. Hunger is spreading out there. It's really GOOD to hear about kids like yours.

Maybe on Christmas morning (if you celebrate such) you could take five minutes to visualize together what that $50 might have bought, and what it meant to the kid opening those gifts. What they were doing with it right now. I believe in the energy of imagination. It formats the brain for the next step, at the very least.