Wildflower Prairie

Jack is just the perfect mimic. I’ve always said he’s a little actor. Every time we go to a play or performance he asks, “Is it my turn?” to go up on stage.

He does a perfect Count von Count from Sesame Street (“Two times. Three times!”), and also Roosevelt Franklin, the early muppet rapper-! (“Did somebody call me by my first name first and my second name second?!”) His intonation and expression is right on. One of his favorite lines: “You are too kind!” where he kind of spits out the “t” and shoots out his lips with “too kind.” That’s from a silly story from Between the Lions that my uncle sent us when Jack was young.

He also has this little French ditty down, from our “Madeline” CD. It’s to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. He doesn’t do the French words perfectly but it’s a crack-up to hear him try: it starts: “Ah, vous dirai-je Maman” and he continues “ce key cause-ay mon-too-mont…”

So, yes, Jack mimics in French too. Plus, he can memorize blocks and blocks of text. You don’t realize this until he starts correcting you as you read aloud, and you realize he’s not even looking at the words.

So why is he so behind in school?

Ah, the epileptic brain. It’s a patch of wildflowers, some parts are colorful and strong and sway in the breeze, and some parts turn to fields of clover, and are a little bare.

Ah, the epileptic brain. It’s a patch of wildflowers, some parts are colorful and strong and sway in the breeze, and some parts turn to fields of clover, and are a little bare.

If you ask him why something happened, or is that way in the story, he’ll really struggle to connect two things. That’s part of his clover. But his wildflower patches, oh they are so glorious.

Do you know Houndsley and Catina? We’ve loved these books. Houndsley is this humble hound dog and his best friend is the chatty and sweet Catina. On the CD from the library, their neighbor Bert, a huge white goose, speaks in kind of staccato honks. As he listens to “Houndsley and Catina and the Birthday Surprise,” Jack honks out, in a perfect match to Bert’s voice, “We all have our own tastes. (pause) Now how can I help you?”

Anyway, we get a lot out of language and songs. That’s why you’ll find us driving around Seattle in our little red wagon, singing. Singing rounds, belting out Alouette, alternating the parts, handing the lines back and forth, laughing at each other’s expressions…spinning through the pinks, yellows, blues of our wildflower prairie.

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Parallel Land

Many of you know my brother has two beautiful boys, all grown now. We all lived close when they were young. My dad, at the time, lived in Springs, out east on Long Island and once a summer we’d all pile into his white Jeep and head for this cool bay beach. This poem is for my younger nephew.

Parallel Land
Auntie, look! you shout as your mom and I arrive
clutching faded quilts and lemonade.
Salt sunlight laces the air.
Water ripples toward a marsh, pulls, flattens
reflects in a shallow channel.
You point, feet planted on sloped sand
where the beach curves in from a spit.
Eyes wide you peer across the channel
up a sandy hill to a gnarled tree
all twists and speckled shade
where you will be a bootblack pirate
on an island full of gold in faraway seas.

Coming! I call as I snap down the quilt
dent corners with straw bags, striped towels.
Your brother’s across. You and I wade in
raucous green blooms on your trunks float
one by one, soft sand sinks underfoot
warm blue water swirls your arms, my waist
we laugh, sensing current’s pull.
I wait at the edge, you two scramble up
reach for branches, tumble down. And begin your tale.
I catch only parts at the breezy shore:
you find your map, X marks the spot.
Sand flecks back as you spy your treasure
and swing around to conquer
a dastardly band, swords clashing.

Shouts float on the pitch pine slope
tide switches at my feet
thermals tilt the gulls
wild rose weaves the air.
Earth reels. Stars wait their turns.
Sweet boy keep your compass close
the map may be written but the treasure is all your own.