The heft of the book, the feel of the dust jacket and the paper inside (smooth but not slick) contribute to this initial sensation. The hand-chalked title and cover illustration glow forth from a deep purple background. Christoph Niemann's robust drawings build the feeling--they appear simple and straightforward but they carry (like good writing for children) layers of imagination and emotion. And the poems inside, not all of which are sleepy or soft by any means, are cozy nonetheless--they speak to the experiences that children have at home, in their early close relationships with people, objects and the creatures of the natural world. There's no flash, no high-tech, no gloss--just outstanding design and sensitive curation.
In a time of--would you agree with me?--global unrest, when anyone who is paying attention to the Big Picture must carry a sense of unease, this book is somehow comforting and reassuring. It confirms that the fundamental, ritual experience of going to bed with a story, poem or song shared in the voice of a beloved caregiver is alive and well.
So it's fitting that when Kenn was invited to an interview over at Michelle Heidenrich Barnes's blog, he offered this challenge:
Write a poem for your mother. Write it for your mother and give it to her. It can be any kind of poem you like, as long as it’s especially for her. In my opinion, a poem is the best gift you can ever give someone. It doesn’t cost you anything but a little thought and time, and yet it will be treasured forever.
And fittingly enough, I have just such a gift poem in my archives! I posted it to the Ditty of the Month Club Padlet and now I share it with you here--a poem about precisely that experience I described above, of being rhymed and rhythmed, thrilled and calmed each morning, noon and night by the voice of my mother, Lila (nee Zingerline) Mordhorst.
A History of Your Voice
Mothers’ Day 2011
and this little piggy stayed home
for so long we were
together all the time
together all alone
together all among
open the doors and see all the people
four gray geese in a flock
for so long you listened to every word I
began to say
forgot to say
dared to say
wire briar limber lock
we parted disintegrated
apple seed and apple thorn
for so long now we are
picking up threads
sit and sing by a spring
there were two old Indians crossing the Mississippi
ripping a seam here and there
putting right sides together
stitching further rivers
would you like to hear the rest?
© Heidi Mordhorst
The round-up for this Poetry Friday is with Linda at TeacherDance. May you hear today in your travels the voice of someone who spoke to you with love at bedtime--and may we seek that for every child.