Tuesday, June 23, 2009

our grandchildren

We were lucky to have some time with our two grandchildren in Acton, MA. Watching and helping in the amazing reality of child development is a gift we savor. Check out the pictures and the sense of science in the child. A new friend came to CFS and helped us with science three months back (check the blog for March 14). He wrote an article for The Guardian (Britain's leading broadsheet newspaper) about CFS and science--a good companion piece for this poem. Check it out at


the child as scientist

in a one year old
the world engenders equal shares of wonder & frustration,

new things, people cascade past the eyes,
fingers twitch, toes curl,

the hand reaches to touch, to grab, to hold and consider,
to manipulate and see what might happen,
the mouth opens wide in wonder,
the mind works hard to figure what’s before it,

wonder . . .


things dull with familiarity, people around aren’t the parent,
the lip curls, a disgruntled cry comes out,
louder and higher if the right response isn’t intuited and acted upon,
or just if the world doesn’t quickly fall into the place wanted,
the cry ramping up until it can sound like an air-raid siren!

frustration. . .

often the right food at the right time can restore balance,
enough familiar and enough new and all is well, for awhile,

consider the 4 year old scientist who can still have that same wonder

and who now has words as tools,
who has filed away experience after experience
and who loves sorting through and finding patterns that explain,
and reveling in revealing sheer competence,

before us today at a museum are
and objects we can manipulate within the fields they create,
invisible power manifests before us and obeys laws,
laws that need wonder, experimentation,
and thoughtful venture after venture at explanation
for us to fathom how they work,

the 1 year old knows there are rules and meaning to what is,
it’s the figuring them out and the figuring how to act within them
that’s her job now,

magic is one system that holds the wonder
and has appeal and answers that explain,
yet answers that make most of us powerless,
pawns to stars, spells, hoodoo,

I prefer the system of science
when it both holds the wonder
and still reveals the rational laws all have to follow,
and which are accessible to any of us
with clear thinking and the mind to use it,

I think of Einstein and the compass,

his lifelong wonder and devotion to understand
the hidden powers that underpin reality,

the child has to be a scientist to thrive those early years
and will stay so unless we pervert their world
with the destructive side of irrationality
and its child, powerlessness.

by Henry Walker
June 18, ‘09

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