Off with your head, my five-year-old recently told me when I said no to a second piece of dessert.
Though after I explained to her what that phrase meant, she looked at me in a slight panic and asked: But would it grow back?
My daughter, of course, picked that line up from the Queen in Alice in Wonderland, but it got me thinking about Emily Dickinson, who said, If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.
Take a sharpie away from my three-year-old and she will invoke Whitman, will begin sounding her barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.
But plop her on the toilet and the scene is much more reminiscent of the Romantics – as she ponders philosophical questions, her imagination wandering wildly and her intonations somewhere between speech and song.
Help, my three-year-old yells, tugging on my leg. There’s a monster under there!
Under where? I say.
And then she falls to the ground laughing, having made yet another unsuspecting adult say underwear aloud.
Underwear is a big deal to my three-year-old – a source of both great silliness and pride – which strikes me as fascinating, given how often I have panicked dreams of standing in front of a small audience only to realize that I’d forgotten to wear pants.
It was one of those unseasonably warm evenings earlier this fall when I bit into a beet and my front tooth came loose. It was a false crown to begin with but I’d had it for so long I’d forgotten it wasn’t real.
My dentist replaced it with a temporary cap that turned out to be even more temporary than expected, and no matter how firmly he cemented it in place it kept coming loose.
By the time I’d get my poems back…I could see them in a new way, maybe like children getting off the bus from their first day of school. – Kay Ryan
Sometimes, when we pick our poems up, they come sprinting into our arms and we can’t tell if they are overjoyed to see us or if we are rescuing them from the cruelties of the playground.