Monday, November 8, 2010

"There Came a Killing Frost"


“And the pony she named Wildfire, busted down its stall”. Somehow I can’t say the title of this essay without singing the next line. A sure sign of how old I am! Last week, we had two days of light frost, the kind that kills the impatiens and morning glories but spares the petunia’s. It is still too dark to tell, but surely everything was finished off last night, for when I let the dog out in the dark of the morning there was an inch or so of slush on my deck.

And so, on this somber, sopping, Monday with another Nor’easter at our door, I would like to share a poem that captures the lament of an insect lover such as I, when the dreaded killing frost is upon us. The book is titled “Joyful Noise- Poems for Two Voices” by Paul Fleischman and I share it with children and teachers whenever I can. You read them in tandem, two readers, reading their lines sometimes alone, sometimes together. It is a wonderfully effective device and classes usually love it.

Let’s read “Requiem” together, followed by a moment of silence for the voices of the summer chorus, now stilled.


REQUIEM

Carolina sphinx moth
Grant them rest eternal Grant them rest eternal
Maple moths
Let light undying Let light undying
shine upon them. shine upon them.

Praying mantises
green darners
rest eternal rest eternal

Black-winged damselflies
brown darners
light undying light undying.

Grasshoppers Grasshoppers
great crested
spur-throated
three-banded
Katydids Katydids
round-headed
northern
gladiator
Cave crickets
mole crickets Cave crickets
tree crickets mole crickets
field crickets tree crickets
Grant them
rest eternal rest eternal
Give them
light undying. light undying.

This past night
we had the fall’s first
killing frost.

Paul Fleischman

Amen.

2 comments:

  1. TRY AS I MIGHT, I CAN'T GET THE TYPSET TO ALLOW ME TO SPACE THIS AS TWO COLUMNS, AS IT SHOULD BE. HOPE YOU GET THE GIST OF IT EVEN WITHOUT PROPER SPACING. APOLOGIES TO MR. FLEISCHMAN BUT THE FONT IS AUTOMATIC-PAT

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  2. The perfect poem! Joyful Noise is one of my favorite books of poetry.

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