Monday, July 20, 2009

Sky Magic

I wrote this post last month during Bloggiesta, intending it to be one to have "in the can" for a rainy day. While today isn't rainy, it is the 40th anniversary of the moon landing (in case you hadn't heard). Turns out, this post seems to have an appropriate resonance for July 20, 2009.

I don't have any first hand memories of the moon landing, since I was only 3 months old when Neil Armstrong took his giant leap for mankind. For those of us celebrating our 40th year (or close to it) on Earth during this moon landing anniversary year, this strikes me as one of the remaining few "where were you when ...." types of moments that my generation won't have any immediate recall of. It puts into perspective how much has changed since the moon landing and how much is, hopefully, still ahead.

(And no, I'm not talking about continuing the space program and going onto Mars. I'm not in favor of that, because I think we have enough problems to occupy our time here on Earth. I look at a trip to Mars as akin to, say, The Dean and I jet-setting off to some remote island in the Caribbean for six months. It would be nice, people would benefit, but there are at least two responsibilities here at home. Not to mention no money for such an adventure.)

I digress, as per usual. Here's the post I wrote back during Bloggiesta about a cute little children's book of poetry called Sky Magic.

Sky Magic, poems compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrated by Mariusz Stawarski

When she was little, one of us had to sleep with Betty until she fell asleep. We set up a mattress on her floor, we squeezed into her twin bed with her ... there were all kinds of machinations that we had to go through every night.

One routine Betty and I had was looking out her bedroom window together while reciting, "Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight ..." when we saw a star. We'd make a wish on the star ("I hope Little B. feels better soon," or "I'm glad the sun came out today.") As these childhood things do, this seemed to last for quite some time ... and then, as such things do, it faded and disappeared.

It's been a few years - a few lifetimes - since we slept on the mattresses, tip-toed like thieves out of a bedroom with a squeaky floorboard, or wished on stars.

We have different nocturnal nuances to contend with now. They still linger in the form of Betty, Boo, and I reading our own books together in the guest room while pointing out new-to-us or special words - princess, castle, cakes, pink - to one another. I was thinking about those toddler days when we recently read Sky Magic, a breathtaking collection of 14 poems celebrating all things celestial - the sun, the moon, the stars, the sky. Of the poets included, I admit that I only have heard of Tennessee Williams and Carl Sandburg. Still, the others are certainly worthy. The illustrations by Mariusz Stawarski are colorful and soothing.

Here's one poem from the book that I liked:

Who Found the Moon? by Alice Schertle

Who found the moon?
Who found it when it tumbled from the sky
and picked it up like any common stone
and looked around to see he was alone?

Who licked it with his tongue
to see if it would melt,
and rubbed it with his thumb,
and felt its silver coolness on his palm,
and saw it was no bigger than a plum?

He must have known
that moonlight would be missed.
I wonder if he kissed the moon good-bye
before he wound up knee-high in the grass
and pitched it like a fastball toward the sky -

to hang among the silent stars in space
with finger smudges on its silver face.

Sky Magic is intended for children, although I will confess Betty and Boo weren't enthralled with this. I try to read poetry to them on occasion but with the exception of the great Shel Silverstein, they don't seem all that interested. This is, however, a nice bedtime, lullaby book - one that I would have loved when the kids were little and needed some help drifting off to dreamland.

Here's another poem, Moon Lullaby, which seems especially apropos for tonight:

Moon Lullaby - by Rebecca Kai Dotlich

Lull cats to sleep,
let children dream
shine silver blue
on gentle stream.

Glaze the house
where sleepers sigh ...
as hours
as nights

as years go by.

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