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Saturday, September 3, 2016

Nothing too insignificant for a poem


“Nothing is too small. Nothing is too, quote-unquote, ordinary or insignificant. Those are the things that make up the measure of our days, and they're the things that sustain us. And they're the things that certainly can become worthy of poetry.”  Rita Dove

Born in 1952, Rita Dove is the second African American to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, in 1987.  And, she served as the Poet Laureate of Virginia from 2004 to 2006.

Today, for Saturday’s Poem, here is Dove’s

Autobiography of a Fifth Grader
I was four in this photograph fishing
with my grandparents at a lake in Michigan.
My brother squats in poison ivy.
His Davy Crockett cap
sits squared on his head so the raccoon tail
flounces down the back of his sailor suit.

My grandfather sits to the far right
in a folding chair,
and I know his left hand is on
the tobacco in his pants pocket
because I used to wrap it for him
every Christmas. Grandmother's hips
bulge from the brush, she's leaning
into the ice chest, sun through the trees
printing her dress with soft
luminous paws.

I am staring jealously at my brother;
the day before he rode his first horse, alone.
I was strapped in a basket
behind my grandfather.
He smelled of lemons. He's died—
but I remember his hands.

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