Today is Poem in Your Pocket Day. Here is my nomination from e.e. cummings:
who are you,little i
(five or six years old)
peering from some high
window;at the gold
of november sunset
(and feeling:that if day
has to become night
this is a beautiful way)
What I love about this piece has changed over the years. The wondering smallness of the questioner is what always strikes me first, in “who are you, little i”, and the grammar fan in me loves the play on words. But you don’t have to be a writer or even an English major to feel the question and see the sky lit up before some small child.
Maybe it’s just because I grew up Wisconsin, but when I read this my mind’s eye sees this boy on the second floor of a house, gazing out over farmers’ fields, swells, plains, watching the sun at the horizon and observing its last rays on the land and items in between. Growing up, my bedroom faced west, up Shamrock Lane toward Highland View elementary school and the hill, what quite possible was the highest point in our town, Greendale.
At sunset my bedroom glowed gold to pink to violet in the matter of minutes, the two windows slightly shielded by pale blue dotted swiss curtains and the leaves of the birch tree outside.
To the writer in me, the sensibility of the older narrator looking back, giving us the story of what he now knows, at his current age, is not intrusive. In fact, so as not to disturb the scene itself, he sneaks in quietly right off to help us place the i, using parentheses so as not to interrupt the moment of the sunset itself (five or six years old). The regret of “that if day / has to become night” is thought by the small boy, but felt now by the older narrator.
All things must come to an end, as children we hate that, going to bed is the worst thing because other fun things go on, without us. But as adults maybe we understand better the largeness of that statement and let it inform how we face each day.
The Academy of American Poets has assembled some other poems for you today on their website. Is that a poem in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?