Saturday, September 08, 2007

"We can stand at the edge of the river and watch the sun tumbling down."

This is Just to Say
I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox
and which
you were probably
for breakfast
Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold
I remember when i first encountered this poem~ninth grade Honors English (my all time favorite teacher~most inspirational~props again Mr. Mathis...) I seem to remember one of those painful sessions of analyzation~searching for meaning, symbolism, wondering if there were any right or wrong answers (which brings back nightmares of yet another teacher~this time college and sixteenth century poetry~everything i said and wrote~was WRONG, WRONG, WRONG and somehow i could do better~it was the first time that i really understood what it felt like to be the "picked-upon-'dumb'-student"~absolutely hated it [this same teacher was also my English minor advisor and in advising sessions he was perfectly pleasant~nice even...) Anyway, couldn't this famous poem (and i do love the poem~perhaps just for its lovely simplicity) just be a note left on the kitchen table or the refrigerator door?
Alice Kuipers' first novel, life on the refrigerator door is just that~notes between a mother and daughter left on the refrigerator door (a somewhat refreshing form of communication in this day of cell phones, email, and im-ing). This is a wonderful book; its 220 pages can be easily read in less than a few hours, but the emotions will linger long after the last page is finished.
It is as touching (if not more so) for what is left unsaid as what is said. I have an advanced reader's edition which i picked up because it was there and it looked undaunting. Today while i was cataloging (ever the librarian, i) newly acquired books (unfortunately a few still accumulate though i have tried to curb certain impulses...) i picked it up, started reading and couldn't stop.
I never felt like Kuipers was constrained by her form and what went untold could be sensed through what was told. You know from the blurbs that all will not go well with these characters but it is still a most compelling read: short, sweet, and entirely moving...
I will leave you with one of Claire's notes to her mother:
When I look at you
I see the woman I want to be
Strong and brave
Beautiful and free

P.S. I love you

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