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Fire, Water and the Written Word Part 2

Least favorite subject, hands down, is fourth period literature with Mrs. Oakleberry. No one ever seems to listen in here. She’s a plump woman, and her name always makes me wish she wore wild clothes like the teacher in The Magic School Bus books, she's odd enough. According to rumor, the woman doesn’t own a television. I can’t imagine what she does for fun.

Today she announces a new section, poetry. Everyone groans, I groan. Mrs. Oakleberry smiles and pulls out her book, we follow suit. Her voice is loud and clear seemingly unaware of the chatter around her. With the first words of “The Highwayman” she holds me captive. My ears ring slightly as my eyes focus on the dark and distant moors, the moon rising across a ribbon of road.

And the highwayman came riding.
Riding, riding,
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn door.


It was in that moment that I discovered poetry. Words sang in my soul once more and after many years I picked up books again, drinking in the rhythmic cadence of Noyes, Kilmer, Foss, Dickenson, and Shakespeare. Once more I found my refuge in the words of others.

I could relate to:

Let me live in my house by the side of the road-
It’s here the race of men go by.
They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong,
Wise, foolish- so am I

I treasured:

I think that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast

Even songs began to take on an entirely new life, their lyrics a sounding board for the emotional roller coaster that I lived in.

I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I'm living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.

When I was fifteen my parents finally divorced and my mother was left with three adolescents full of the rage they had learned from their father. There was little she could do to help or control us; for better or worse music and words became the guiding forces in my life.


Polly Blevins said…
Everyone has a story to tell. I have always said that you could take anyone in the whole world and if you read their true autobiography, you would find their life interesting. You are no exception! Well written.

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