04 April 2011

Tuesday Poem: 'You have to walk before you can fly'

You have to walk before you can fly

It’s Chantelle’s first birthday
and I’m watching her learn.

She hands me each piece
of crumpled plastic.
A gift? Or an order?
She hides a torn corner of cardboard
inside her new book.
When she opens the pages
she finds it again. It’s as simple
and as wonderful
as that.

We think she is a lot
like the cat.
They have similar habits, they
think they are Queen and
you have to keep an eye on them both.
But cat is content
with her life, while Chantelle
can already say
Mama, Dada and fish.

Chantelle and I
are an orchestra. She shakes
her rattle and I
shake mine. I am aware
I am trying to amuse her
because I want her to like me. Fortunately
it’s still easy to find her favour.

‘In twenty years’
says Sean
‘We’ll be getting ready
for her twenty first’.

I doubt it will be that easy then.

We gave Chantelle fairy wings
for her first birthday. They are
green and patterned with glitter. She
doesn’t understand them yet – she hasn’t
worn them. She doesn’t yet
care about trying to look pretty.

She slithers over to
scavenge a bite of
our apples. She is learning
to walk without support.

It's the Tuesday Poem's first birthday this week, so it seemed appropriate to post this poem about my niece's first birthday. I read this poem at the launch of Abstract Internal Furniture, by then she was almost two, and had gotten the hang of the wings. She wore them to the launch, and tottered across the empty space in front of me as I read the poem - knowing it was about her. It freaks me out that we were recently celebrating her 11th birthday, but time will march on. She still has the wings apparently.

To celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Tuesday Poem blog we're going to be writing an exquisite-corpse-type collaborative poem over the next wee while. Will be interesting to see what we come up with! Also, check out the other Tuesday Poems via the blog: http://tuesdaypoem.blogspot.com/


Jennifer Compton said...

i want fairy wings

Helen Lowe said...

Another great poem, Helen--and very appropriate given its the Tuesday Poem Blog's first birthday, too.:)

Eileen D. Moeller said...

I love the light conversational tone of this. It expresses both the simplicity and the complexities of the way we relate to our (grand)children.