Sunday, October 4, 2009

what captures a granddaughter?

word, thought, and self--our grandchildren,
a poem

I can often see the trueness of a person in their eyes,
as the self inside marshals itself
and reaches out to know what’s out there,
to connect to the other,
to laugh,
to be real and revealing for an unguarded moment,
and then shutters and filters interpose,
much of the time who we truly are stays within
and only subsets interface with the observer outside,

I have two granddaughters
who each, I swear, is amazing in mind & heart & personality,
for I think I know that true self inside each of them
despite how difficult the leap of knowing can be,
much of the leap is intuitive, of faith and art,
with the younger words don’t yet accompany the self out,
with the older words pour forth and can be an obscuring blizzard,

the one-year-old expresses herself beautifully in eye and sound,
though it’s hard to know which words in which relationship
can capture one almost pre-verbal,
she who understands that she wants
and probably what she wants,
but has not the specificity of sound to thought we call words
so that she can voice order exactly what she wants and knows,
more and more she seems to understand words from us,
her ears and eyes sort out pattern
and she delights when she understands,
yet so much of who we are is the actor upon the world,
and for now she has sophisticated desires
and limited sounds to express them,
what intrigues me is whether thought is there
and words just translate it,
or how much words shape and define the thoughts,
inherent in Isabel is a wondrous self
whom we will know and she will know herself surer
as language and she share the shaping and revealing,

the four-year-old expresses herself beautifully in language and twinkle,
and more and more of who she will be, she is now--
inquisitive, sweet, imaginative, willful and open,
she acts upon the world with gusto
as she visualizes and implements complicated play scenarios
within which only she knows the rules,
and those of us in her world need to adapt
just as she has had to adapt to much herself,
with her, words are more and more sophisticated,
the precise tool for the specialized need,
the complexity of her development high enough
to give advantage so that the spotlight of her intellect
can look back into the concrete
and know it as actors fulfilling abstract scripts,
and sometimes the sheer volume and subtlety of her words
make it hard to see through the clutter to the self within,

we make ourselves in some combination of revelation,
pattern learned, and the ongoing synthesis of the two by a will,

just as in this poem
in which I felt and intuited a shape that needed to be born,
and, as I worked to get the shape right,
I chose words and structures
that gave specifics to the general,
definition to what needed to be,

I love to know another
and I love it when my granddaughters and we
learn to know the other and ourselves,

and, to parallel that creation,
here is a poem that found its form through words
cast to hold an idea
that only became real
as the process of writing both revealed and created it.

by Henry Walker
October 3, ‘09

1 comment:

Joan said...

What a wonderful job you do of capturing so much of those two amazing little learners!