A rediscovered memory
It is common knowledge in my family that I don't remember much of my childhood. It's a running joke. Sometimes I think I was abducted by aliens and had my memory erased. The reality is that, growing up an Air Force Brat, we moved every few years and all the places I called home blurred into a mish-mash of small, military airbase homes.
I was born in Maine and have lived in Japan, South Carolina, Delaware, Michigan, Ohio, Alabama, Washington, D.C. and a bunch of other places.
But one vague memory has always been in the back of my mind, and, as my life has led me to become a writer, it's interesting that this memory has always been with me.
The memory is of a poem.
Actually, a poet reading a poem.
Was I in Kindergarten?
(Remember, I have issues with memory.)
I don't remember what the poet looked like, but the first few words of that poem have been stuck in my head for decades. The rhythm of it was what captured me:
"Stop Look Listen/as gate stripes swing down/count the cars hauling distance/upgrade through town:/
This mantra stuck in my head for years. Trouble was, that's all I could remember--that first line. I remember being so impressed by the poet that I memorized the whole poem (or, at least I think I did as a child.)
I've often thought about that poem over the years. Only recently, maybe about a year ago, I realized there's this thing called the Internet and I could look for it!
With a minimum amount of searching I found it. The poem is called The Crossing and the poet is Philip Booth. It was a joy to read the rest of the poem, and hear the wonderful rhythm of those words.
And the more I read about Philip Booth, the more I unraveled a piece of my own scattered memory.
Booth was known as Maine's "clearest, poetic voice."
I was born in Maine.
So maybe Philip Booth came to my school when I was a little kid in Maine!
This was a great revelation for me.
Here's the poem, The Crossing, still in print, and accompanied by some amazing illustrations. I'll have to get it from Amazon.
If you have a child who likes trains, or just wonderful words strung together, I promise you and your kid will enjoy it.