Ground Control Parenting – Carol Sutton Lewis

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Cultural

Thoughtful Thursday: Baby It’s Cold Outside!

If you are anywhere in the Midwest or the Eastern half of the U.S., it is freezing outside! Temperatures in NYC ranged from 2 degrees (with a wind chill of -14 this morning) to the whopping high of 16 earlier in the day. Time to stay indoors, bundle up, make some hot chocolate and read some Winter poems with your kids.

Today’s offering includes “After the Winter”, by the well-known African-American poet Claude McCay, which is a reminder of how sweet (and warm) life can be when winter is over; Chilean poet Pablo Neruda’s “Ode To My Socks”, a whimsical tribute to a cherished gift of warm socks on a winter’s day; and the GCP favorite, “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden, a tribute to the hardworking Dads taking care of their families in the dead of Winter. Hayden, who became the first Black member of the University of Michigan’s English Department, went on to teach at Fisk University for over 20 years.

Share these poems with your children, stay warm, and enjoy.

After The Winter

Some day, when trees have shed their leaves
    And against the morning’s white
The shivering birds beneath the eaves
    Have sheltered for the night,
We’ll turn our faces southward, love,
    Toward the summer isle
Where bamboos spire to shafted grove
    And wide-mouthed orchids smile.

And we will seek the quiet hill
    Where towers the cotton tree,
And leaps the laughing crystal rill,
    And works the droning bee.
And we will build a cottage there
    Beside an open glade,
With black-ribbed blue-bells blowing near,
    And ferns that never fade.

Claude McKay  1889-1948

Ode to My Socks

Maru Mori brought me
a pair
of socks
which she knitted herself
with her sheepherder’s hands,
two socks as soft
as rabbits.
I slipped my feet
into them
as though into
two
cases
knitted
with threads of
twilight
and goatskin.
Violent socks,
my feet were
two fish made
of wool,
two long sharks
sea-blue, shot
through
by one golden thread,
two immense blackbirds,
two cannons:
my feet
were honored
in this way
by
these
heavenly
socks.
They were
so handsome
for the first time
my feet seemed to me
unacceptable
like two decrepit
firemen, firemen
unworthy
of that woven
fire,
of those glowing
socks.

Nevertheless
I resisted
the sharp temptation
to save them somewhere
as schoolboys
keep
fireflies,
as learned men
collect
sacred texts,
I resisted
the mad impulse
to put them
into a golden
cage
and each day give them
birdseed
and pieces of pink melon.
Like explorers
in the jungle who hand
over the very rare
green deer
to the spit
and eat it
with remorse,
I stretched out
my feet
and pulled on
the magnificent
socks
and then my shoes.

The moral
of my ode is this:
beauty is twice
beauty
and what is good is doubly
good
when it is a matter of two socks
made of wool
in winter.

Pablo Neruda 1904-1973

Those Winter Sundays

Sundays too my father got up early

and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,

then with cracked hands that ached

from labor in the weekday weather

made banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.


I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.

When the rooms were warm, he’d call,

and slowly I would rise and dress,

fearing the chronic angers of that house,


Speaking indifferently to him,

who had driven out the cold

and polished my good shoes as well.

What did I know, what did I know

of love’s austere and lonely offices?

Robert Hayden 1913-1980




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