I Found A Poem I Wrote When I Was 9 Years Old
My wife and I were going through a couple of storage bins of childhood keepsakes when I discovered a folder full of writings from my elementary years. I’d like to think that my writing has improved over the years, but I was honestly surprised by how much the general tone of my writing has remained consistent.
In my journal entries, I made similar observations and asked many of the same types of questions I’d ask today. My short stories had the same sort of attempt at suspension and reveal that I use today — although they were poorly done. Being me reading me, I understood what I was trying to do and these stories made me smile.
There was one little poem in particular that stood out to me though. My teacher must have thought it was special as well considering she wrote “Don’t lose this!” across the top. It was about my grandparents’ living room. The original was written in paragraph form but I’ve reformatted below as a poem because I think that is how it should be read.
My grandma’s livingroom
It always seems that the chair is warm and soft
I always enjoy the smell of cookies and bread
I like to look at the fireplace and watch it burn
The rhythm of the clock goes on and on
I like my grandma’s livingroom
The Circular Voice
I find it really endearing to read. It echos the same types of observations that I would make today — ordinary things becoming extraordinary through the power of observation.
Both grandparents on that side of my family died young — a few years after I wrote that little poem. Memories like this are how they live on within me. In many ways, I think they played a significant role in developing my voice and the way I see the world.
For example, the reason I had time to observe the fireplace was that my brother and I would sleep on the living room floor when we spent the night at their house. My grandpa would lay with us until we fell asleep. The fireplace was our nightlight and lulled us to sleep.
The mantel clock was the type that had to be periodically wound with a key. It wasn’t merely decoration but a piece of mechanical art that required participation and maintenance. It was a source of curiosity for me. I wondered how it worked, how it kept time, and how the chimes functioned. I saw my grandpa as a key-master of sorts. Their house was full of curious little things like this.
I knew the softness of the chairs because my grandparents were the type of people that would read me stories. They each had their own chairs that had unique smells and textures. I’d sit with my grandparents and we’d cover up with a soft woolen blanket. I could feel the weekend stubble on my grandpa’s chin. My grandma’s perfume would linger on my clothing. Our being together was quiet and intimate.
We didn’t watch television and it was long before iPads and smartphones. My grandma and I would sit on the floor and play Yahtzee and Phase 10. The aroma of bread and cookies filled the house because my grandma was someone who baked. She would involve us in the kitchen and invite us to participate. Spending time at their house was a tactful and sensory experience.
So in that poem, maybe I used my voice to articulate a few lines about my experience of their living room, or perhaps it was my experience with my grandparents that developed that voice. Or maybe it is just that these things are circular. My experiences develop my character, and then my character shapes how I interpret my experiences.
As a child, I was impacted enough by my grandparents’ living room to write a poem about it. As an adult, I’m being shaped by my reliving of that poem a few decades later. This is the beautiful circularity of life.