Poetry Friday: Marilyn Nelson’s “1905”

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
~ Nelson Mandela ~

“1905”
by Marilyn Nelson

Looking out of the front page, a wild-haired,
gentle-eyed young German man stands
before a blackboard of incomprehensible equations.
Meanwhile, back in the quotidian,
Carver takes the school to the poor.

He outfits an open truck
with shelves for his jars
of canned fruit and compost,
bins for his croker sacks of seeds.
He travels roads barely discernible
on the county map,
teaching former field-slaves
how to weave ditch weeds
into pretty table place mats,
how to keep their sweet potatoes from rotting
before winter hunger sets in,
how to make preacher-pleasing
mock fried chicken
without slaughtering a laying hen.
He notes patches of wild chicory
the farmers could collect
to free themselves from their taste
for high-priced imported caffeine.

He and his student assistants bump along
shoulder to shoulder in the high cab,
a braided scale of laughter
trailing above their raised dust.

Read the rest of the poem here.

                              

This poem is from Marilyn Nelson’s outstanding Carver: A Life in Poems. George Washington Carver, this poem, and the entire collection are a much-needed reminder of the power of what is possible. Please be sure to visit Kay McGriff at A Journey Through the Pages for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

8 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Marilyn Nelson’s “1905”

  1. Summer 2007, I read this book and my soul shifted. Marilyn Nelson’s words will do that. I took me years to unravel her word choices, her storytelling ways. This book is PROFOUND. Thanks for highlighting it, Catherine.

    Like

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