Friday, March 9, 2012

Repairing the World with Needles and Pins/Pens

I've been published several times in The South Carolina Review, and I'm always happy to see my poem in its pages.  It's a well-done literary magazine.

The latest poem of mine to appear in The South Carolina Review is "Safety Pin Sisterhood."  It's based on a true story:  a young, female student appeared in my office with a broken shoe.  She said she would need to go home to get a new pair of shoes and could I please tell her Math teacher.  I thought that missing a class to go get replacement shoes was a mistake, and so I looked for a way to salvage her shoe so that she could get to class.

The experience showed me that I could stock some materials for future events:  safety pins and duct tape, neither of which I had.  Happily, my friend who was working nearby had a safety pin in her purse.

I saw the student later in the day, and our safety pin solution had held together.  Hurrah!

I wrote this blog post about it, and eventually, I created this poem:

Safety Pin Sisterhood

I pin a student’s sandal
back together again and think
of graduate school.

I could tell this student
about the meaning of a broken strap
in fairy tales. In a novel,
this broken sandal would have semiotic
meanings that we could deconstruct.

But in real life, this student simply
needs her shoe fixed so she can slip
down the hallways to get to class.
I am a woman of safety pins and staples,
a spare pen, and the schedule that shows
where everyone should be.

What would Wordsworth say?
I already know: the world
is too much with us.
Keats would not see the beauty
in a broken sandal made of cheap
materials from China.

But Christina Rossetti would offer
a secret smile, as would Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
They, too, were women
with a safety pin or a spare set of socks,
women who ignored the theories
about poetics that swirled
around them while quietly
repairing the world with needles
and bandages and great poems
scribbled in the margins.

1 comment:

Hannah Stephenson said...

Congrats on the publication....and what a wonderful poem. I've had little moments like this with students...where we care about them and their education, and try to pitch in to support them.

I started thinking of a student I had once. While teaching about resumes, and trying to highlight our skills, she got increasingly aggravated and was a bit rude during class discussion. When I mentioned to her privately that she seemed upset, and asked her what was wrong, she asked if we could go in the hall. She started crying and saying that she didn't have any worthwhile skills to highlight, and couldn't imagine anyone wanting to hire her.

I did feel responsibility in that moment to reassure her that she had several talents and skills that others wished they had.

It wasn't a shoe I was repairing, but that support we give to younger students (especially female!) is necessary.