When I faced down ‘androgynous’ in the first round of Poetry March Madness last year, I was sure that any word Ed threw at me this year would be easier. But I was wrong. This year I drew ‘bereft’. It’s a fine word, but I live in Connecticut. And ‘bereft’ is a raw word for me. A sharp, painful word. It brings to mind tiny coffins and sobbing parents. Not an easy word to write a children’s poem about. So I really, really, really struggled this year. Hours before my entry was due I was still fussing with several unsatisfactory entries.
My first finalist was a poem about the yearly mastery tests:
The school’s bereft of noise,
of running feet,
of shouting voices,
of raised hands,
Must be testing week.
The second was a sappy poem for my husband:
bereft of song
of yellow daffodils
of pink petals, falling
is more like spring
than I am me
But the poem I was really trying to avoid writing was the following poem (still in a very rough stage). Originally it had bereft in the 2nd to last line…
Patiently the 6th graders fold the
paper squares six times and, laughing,
cut angles to match the
poorly printed diagrams. Holding
back tears I guide a hand
making a center star, thinking,
how can we make stars
when the night has lost so many.