Thursday, December 3, 2015

field trip on the poetry bus!

I've written about this fabulous addition to our town's transit system before, but a couple of Fridays ago I got to share it with the weekly poetry class the girls are a part of, as their end-of-term field trip! A double bonus was that the teacher is Wendy McVicker, the poet whose poem is featured on the bus. Swoon.  (If you are looking for a new book of poetry, please consider Wendy's recent published volume of her work, The Dancer's Notes)

I love this group of kids. The dynamic is like a passel of puppies. They laugh, cajole, hug, and chatter, but they settled down to the experience of riding inside a poem quickly, and started making their own written observations.

Wendy "found" this poetry: Emergency Exit in the spaces between hedges

We especially liked the transformative dance of the word shadows on all kinds of surfaces (including my face!).  I wondered if this was an aspect of the experience the creators could have even imagined? It was mesmerizing.

happy poet

The kids mostly jotted down things they overheard or caught a glimpse of during the ride, but I noticed a few bits of word magic made their way into the corners, to be found by future passengers. The bus is inspiring, I tell you!  Our driver was also a boon for the trip. It turns out that she never knows when she is going to get to drive the poetry bus, but that she loves it.  She also, upon learning that we were a group of homeschoolers, took it upon herself to explain the workings of the licensing system to us, in case anyone had a mind to become a bus, or semi-truck driver.  

As we rode, Wendy talked about how finding one image can help a poem grow; in the case of this poem, she shares her memories of the summer evenings of childhood, spun from the seed of pools of dusk.  

We ended this beautiful day with some visiting on the rooftop, and some Shel Silverstien read aloud by Ani, before heading inside for hot cocoa and cookies.  Hm...getting to ride a bus, read and write poetry, and have snacks? Pretty lovely.

In Summer 

we rolled down
the fresh–mown hills
into pools of dusk.
One by one, up
and down the street,
the small square houses
lit up, like ships
at sea, rocking
on the tide of night.
We swam from yard
to yard, our bodies
flickered in the spaces
between hedges, slipped
as easily as shadows
down gravel driveways.
Our eyes grew large
and luminously deep.
We knew the sound
of each one’s footsteps, the taste
of each one’s breath.
The night air
ran down our skin, smeared
with green.
We bit off blades of grass
and tongued them, sharp
whistles arcing
across the sky.
When our mothers
called us in, their voices
were like a net
cast over the night
catching us in its folds
pulling us out of the darkness—
and we came
reluctant, blinking,
opening and closing our mouths
without a sound

by Wendy McVicker        

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