Stories for the Telling: Mabel Kaplan
Poetry 'n Prose
taken from the scrapbook of  my childhood scribblings
Page 2


I hid a bird
      inside my desk

      It seemed so cold
      and stiff.
      It did not move.
      And I am worried
      just in case someone
      who doesn't care
      should come along
      and bury it
      before it has a chance
      to rest
      and, then perhaps -
      grow warm



There's a place where I go
when noise drowns my head
and people around
squeeze me in.

When the sounds from around
bounce back from the ground
and I cannot hear
where I am.

It's not a far walk.
I don't need to climb.
Just a slide no-one sees
and I'm there.

This place where I go
is where no-one says "No!"
Where I can be quiet
and find me.


       A pencil
       tied with string
       my notebook
       and inside it
       I write
       those special things
       just for me
       and my notebook
       to know.



        My teacher
        says: "Not just yet."
        I must
        a little better get
        before I write at school
        in ink.

        I practice
        nearly every day
        after school
        instead of play
        when I get off the bus
        - and home.

        When I look
        at what I've done
        it seems
        I'm not the only one
        who can't write well at school
        in ink.

        I take pen
        with careful hold
        and make
        the letters round and bold
        and then hand comes
        and blurs the ink.

        My writing
        every day grows better
        if judged
        by just the shape of letter.
        Why must she only see
        the smudge.

                            - a left hander

* Before the era of ball-point pens there were pens with steel nibs which had to be dipped into inkwells filled with  home-made ink.  The ink would get very gluggy over time and what made it even worse was when someone put a fly or piece of chalk or  something else into the inkwell.  Getting just the right amount of ink on to the pen was an art in itself.  Blobs of ink from an over full nib could mysteriously appear on a page of the most carefully produced  writing.  Then there was the problem of smudging.  Ink smudged very easily until it was dry.  Even the use of blotting paper did not always help.  So all in all it was really very difficult to produce a clean page of work at the best of times.  And if you happened to be left-handed the problem was even greater.

         Floating high
                  across the sky ...
         I'm fluff and white - a cloud.

         I look below
         - moving slow -
         and watch the children play.

         But inbetween -
         when I feel mean
         I sometimes cover the sun


A special welcome to  the children in Grade One at Suquamish School, Washington, DC .  This page was set up for them because their teacher contacted me so we could learn more about each other.  I am now enjoying an exchange of letters and poems  that I trust will  enrich our understanding of one another's country and culture: mine Western Australian; theirs American.  I know I am enjoying it - and hope others who visit this site will do so, too.
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