This poem is a spell

This poem is a spell

My niece
scrambles on the floor.

she plays with tupperware shapes,
banging the star into its container,
enjoying the bright colours,
the texture of unmoving plastic,
as she puts them in her curious mouth.

she lunges for wooden blocks.
The colours less bright than tupperware,
but still she bangs away,
she likes the sound, the clatter,
as a castle crumbles.

she grabs at plastic letters
her aunt has positioned on the fridge,
knowing these are the things in her books.
She is greedy for them,
she is learning,
the letters are easy.
Being understood,
to be herself,
not easy at all.

I am her aunt,
the girl who loved spells,
spelling, mainlining words,
like others took drugs.

I wonder
Will she be a mother
one day
Or maybe
closed or closeted
in words
or without
in a room
or without a view.

I do not pray
But still I wonder
What is the point?
How do we learn to spell?

Why, when a wordsmith mentions of
mum, dad, anna, hannah,
did you know they all are palindromes?
a nervous giggle might transpire,
an irritated yawn,
why – when words should inspire!

This is my spell’s point.
Language erodes
We have replaced the magma of wonderment;
knowledge has fallen to googling
We have forgotten the ancient spells.
In my bone marrow I know words fail.
Yet some have depth, resonance, truth.

I wish to use my body as a mouth
For my niece,
for all children who embrace technology,
aware of words,
succumbing to their power.
Indeed, cleaving for awareness
and a conscience,
this poem is a spell

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Margaret Atwood delivers two of my favourite quotes in her poem Spelling
1) A child is not a poem
a poem is not a child.
There is no either/or.

2) A word after a word
is power

This poem is inspired by the marvelous MA and my niece Emily


atwood, emily, niece, poem, children, power, spelling, spell, metaphor

I’ll defer to Anna Quindlen, of The New York Times: “People who are knowledgeable about poetry sometimes discuss it in that knowing, rather hateful way in which oenophiles talk about wine: robust, delicate, muscular. This has nothing to do with how most of us experience it, the heart coming around the corner and unexpectedly running into the mind. Of all the words that have stuck to the ribs of my soul, poetry has been the most filling.”

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  • raymondoantonio
    raymondoantonioover 3 years ago


  • Thanks Ray, I posted my diving one too soon methinks – this has been barely read and it is my fav of Jan 2011

    – msdebbie

  • perfect
    perfectover 3 years ago

    A big fine outpour of the Simple things You do indeed do such flowing with great ease ’ – )) perfect by Day eon @ night " – ))

  • Thanks Steve! Just to throw in another alias!

    – msdebbie

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