I’m writing up this gem for you guys today in lieu of a real post 🙂
I took a creative writing class this semester, which, much to my surprise was entirely poetry. Gulp! I thought, I’ve never written a poem in my life… and those really bad love songs in the 8th grade to my faraway crush don’t count. I had secretly been hoping to get some assistance in flourishing my fiction-writing skills so that someday (now, after graduation) I would be able to write my first novel. Little did I know…
That I would become an okay poet!
As our final, we turned in a portfolio of the work we did throughout the semester, with a short (my turned out to be lengthy) statement of ourselves as writers, particularly poets, and a small introduction to each poem. I thought this would be something fun to post here so that everyone could get to know my literary side… being that I’ll be an English grad soon.
I decided to start out of order and go with the ode first, my beloved. I love odes and their intimate nature, their almost sing-song rhythm, and their eternal speculation. Melts your heart, doesn’t it?
We were given the option write either an ode or an elegy that day, but as a devoted Keatsian (word? maybe?), If felt drawn to the ode, of course. Besides, I had thought, odes can be made into something more sophisticated than perhaps an elegy could, and that’s what I had been in the mood to write — something inspirational.
My professor had us do an exercise in class where we attempted to recall a place from our childhood that had seemed magical to us that was no longer visitable.
When I was very young, from about birth to age five, we lived in my grandfather’s house in Dominican Republic. He had built this house for my grandmother, only the second house to be built on that street in the big city. In my mind, this house was the most beautiful in the world… in fact, it still is and always will be. The front porch looked over the front yard, where my grandmother had planted hibiscus flowers and a cactus patch, along with a row of palm trees and other magical-looking plants. The back porch was fenced in by a cement wall (the big city required such a thing) and was decorated with vintage wrought-iron patio furniture and trees with leaves as big as eagle’s wings. There were nooks and crannies and corners and miles of alleys (or so it felt) that let to tiny herb gardens. In the middle of it all was a mango tree, two stories high, and behind it a section of the cement wall painted sky-blue. One day, I came home from pre-school to find the world’s largest toad painted on that sky-blue backdrop.
I never understood the meaning of that frog/toad, and I guess in my amazement, I never thought to ask anyone about it. I just came to rely on those goldfish-bowl-shaped eyes and that sliver of pink tongue sticking out.
Our family moved away that year, to the United States, and didn’t make it back to that house again until I turned eleven. That year, I found myself oddly comforted, seeing that giant toad waiting for me.
That house is now gone, torn down by money-hungry real estate businessmen. My grandfather eventually got too old to take care of it by himself, and it was getting much too expensive to live in a house (as opposed to an apartment) in the big city. When the house was torn down, with it went that old toad that I still find myself fantasizing about.
An Ode to a Toad
Within the mystical jungle
of Caribbean herbs and fruit,
he was hidden in plain sight,
a protector of our loot.
Our feet trampled the fallen leaves,
as we chased our innocence around;
his eyes, they seemed to follow,
but to the concrete he was bound.
At Christmas, he attended
every party that was thrown.
Was this, I later wondered,
how his sins would be atoned?
Now, that darkened garden
lies beneath a block of stone;
a mausoleum for our speckled friend
whose purpose remains unknown.