Thursday, October 23, 2014

Poetry Thursday: Nancy Drew as Teacher

Yesterday I wrote this blog post that talked about my inspirations in writing a poem about Nancy Drew who had grown up and gone back to teaching.  I posted a link to the post on Facebook, and several of my friends wanted to see the poem--and one mentioned Ned Nickerson, which gave me an inspiration about how to end the poem.  I've decided to go ahead and post the poem here and put a link on Facebook.

First, in the spirit of full disclosure, I should confess to being a Trixie Beldon fan.  I collected that whole series.  While I read the Nancy Drew series, I much preferred Trixie Beldon, who seemed much more spunky and independent.

This morning, as I revised yesterday's Nancy Drew poem, I wanted to find a list of the titles of the Nancy Drew books.  Not too long ago, I'd have needed to go to a library.  Now a simple search gets me to a page that lists them.  Amazing. 

At some point, perhaps I'll weave more elements from these titles before I call the poem done.  This morning, as I mulled over how to end the poem, I found the list inspiring.  I had written these lines:

She contemplates the oldest mystery
of all, why we lose
the ones we love,
how we become phantoms of our younger selves.

Below, you can see how the poem evolved differently.  I was going to end the poem with those lines.  Then I wrote what became the last 2 stanzas.  I decided that the lines above weren't necessary, and in fact, detracted.  I think that I often reveal too much, that I don't trust the readers to connect the strands.

I'm not calling this poem finished, so if you have any ideas or suggestions, feel free to let me know.  Or if it inspires you to write a poem of your own, swell!

Nancy Drew and the Mystery of the Pre-Drop Outs

Nancy Drew decides she needs new
mysteries to solve, so she returns
to school, to mold young minds.

Long ago, in between cracking cases
involving diaries or letters or maps and solving
secrets in attics and towers, she got a teaching
certificate, as ambitious women did in those days.
Now she calls the school board to see
how she might be of use.

Her credentials, old and out of date,
don't prevent her from taking charge
of the most hopeless classrooms,
the students on a layover
on their journey to juvenile court.

Given tattered textbooks and worksheets without
answer keys, Nancy Drew adopts
a different approach.  As always, she calls
on her friends.

Bess runs a bakeshop, so she teaches
the students to cook, a retro home-ec
approach.  Nancy Drew's feminist critics
would not approve, but this generation
of students, raised on cooking shows, responds
with rare enthusiasm.

Nancy Drew believes in fresh air and sunshine,
so she recruits her friend George, a marine
biologist, for ideas.  George leads
field trips to various ecosystems:
swamp walks and snorkeling and soon
some of the students are ready
for college-track science classes.

These clues to a better future don't prevent
some of her students from sneaking
away to explore more ancient secrets.
She tries to keep them focused on the future,
but she remembers Ned Nickerson
and those cars now considered classics.

She thinks Of Ned in the roadster,
and later, her love confined to the hospital bed,
immune from rescue, unable to hear
her whispered pleas.

She kisses the old locket always worn
around her neck and writes the day's lesson
plan on the white board.  At the end
of the day, she erases the smeared
lines from the board to leave a blank
space to be filled again in the morning.

No comments: