Poetry Friday: “Turtle Came to See Me”

For the past few weeks, my writing has taken a backseat to the busyness of life. One poem in particular has me stumped. So I went looking for models to emulate. I don’t think the structure of this poem, from Margarita Engle’s verse memoir Enchanted Air, will work for my poem, but it touched my heart.

“Turtle Came to See Me”
by Margarita Engle

The first story I ever write
is a bright crayon picture
of a dancing tree, the branches
tossed by island wind.

I draw myself standing beside the tree,
with a colorful parrot soaring above me,
and a magical turtle clasped in my hand,
and two yellow wings fluttering
on the proud shoulders of my ruffled
Cuban rumba dancer’s
fancy dress.

In my California kindergarten class,
the teacher scolds me: REAL TREES
DON’T LOOK LIKE THAT.

Read the rest of the poem here.

Please be sure to visit Jama Rattigan at Jama’s Alphabet Soup for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

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13 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: “Turtle Came to See Me”

  1. I loved Enchanted Air too, like Brenda, and this poem reminds me of all those who’ve made a bit of fun at their students trying to be creative. Best wishes for your search, Catherine!

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  2. “REAL TREES DON’T LOOK LIKE THAT” reminds me of Eric Carle’s “The Artist Who Painted A Blue Horse.” He, Carle, had always been told to draw/paint things using the “real” color. His eyes were opened when he went to a museum and saw a painting featuring a blue horse. Lovely poem.

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  3. Heartbreaking – we spend so much of our lives being forced into boxes that don’t necessarily fit our backgrounds, our personalities, or preferences or our needs, and it can take years to work our way back out of those boxes.

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  4. Oh, I just love that poem by Margarita. Had to share it with my daughter’s art teacher who I know will relate to it on a personal level. On another subject, I thought I already responded to your PF post for this week, Catherine, but it must have been an older post. I really do need to clean up the tabs on my desktop, but lucky you—it’s 2 for 1 day!

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  5. Catherine, I totally understand about life getting in the way of artistic endeavors. This poem is so telling from a child’s perspective of life in the classroom. How sad that some teachers do not value the uniqueness of each child.

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