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Electricity Comes to Cocoa Bottom by Marcia Douglas

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“Electricity Comes to Cocoa Bottom”

Then all the children of Cocoa Bottom went to see Mr. Samuel’s electric lights.
They camped on the grass bank outside his house,
their lamps filled with oil,external image electricity
waiting for the sunset,
watching the sky turn yellow, orange.
Grannie Patterson across the road
peeped through the crack in her porch door.
The cable was drawn like a pencil line across thee sun.
The fireflies waited in the shadows,
their lanterns off.
The kling-klings swooped in from the hills
congregating in the orange trees.
A breeze coming home from the sea held its breath;
bamboo lining in the dirt road stopped its swaying,
and evening came as soft as chiffon curtains:
Closing. Closing.

Light!
Mr. Samuel smiling on the verandah –
a silhouette against the yellow shimmer behind him –
and there arising such a gasp,
such a fluttering of wings,
tweet-a-whit,
such a swaying, swaying.
Light! Marvelous light!
And then the breeze rose up from above the trees,
swelling and swelling into a wind
such that then long grass bent forward
stretching across the bank like so many bowed heads.
And a voice in the wind whispered:
Is there one among us to record this moment?
But there was none –

no one (except for a few warm rocks
hidden among the mongoose ferns) even heard a sound.
Already the children of Cocoa Bottom
had lit their lamps for the bark journey home,
and it was too late –
the moment had passed.

Marcia Douglas

Diagnosis by Sharon Olds

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“Diagnosis”

By the time I was six months old, she knew something
was wrong with me. I got looks on my face
she had not seen on any child
in the family, or the extended family,
or the neighborhood. My mother took me in
to the pediatrician with the kind hands,
a doctor with a name like a suit size for a wheel:
Hub Long. My mom did not tell him
what she thought in truth, that I was Possessed.
It was just these strange looks on my face—
he held me, and conversed with me,
chatting as one does with a baby, and my mother
said, She’s doing it now! Look!
She’s doing it now! and the doctor said,
What your daughter has
is called a sense
of humor. Ohhh, she said, and took me
back to the house where that sense would be tested
and found to be incurable.

“Diagnosis” by Sharon Olds, from One Secret Thing. © Random House, Inc., 2009.

Poem for Today

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The Pitcher

His art is eccentricity, his aim
How not to hit the mark he seems to aim at,

His passion how to avoid the obvious,
His technique how to vary the avoidance.

The others throw to be comprehended. He
Throws to be a moment misunderstood.

Yet not too much. Not errant, arrant, wild,
But every seeming aberration willed.

Not to, yet still, still to communicate
Making the batter understand too late.

—-Robert Francis

Stone by Charles Simic 

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stone“Stone”
Go inside a stone
That would be my way.
Let somebody else become a dove
Or gnash with a tiger’s tooth.
I am happy to be a stone.

From the outside the stone is a riddle:
No one knows how to answer it.
Yet within, it must be cool and quiet
Even though a cow steps on it full weight,
Even though a child throws it in a river,
The stone sinks, slow, unperturbed
To the river bottom
Where the fishes come to knock on it
And listen.

I have seen sparks fly out
When two stones are rubbed.
So perhaps it is not dark inside after all;
Perhaps there is a moon shining
From somewhere, as though behind a hill—
Just enough light to make out
The strange writings, the star charts
On the inner walls.

“Have Faith” by Emma Amos

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AmosEmmahavefaith

Amos, Emma, “Have Faith,” silk caligraph, 1991

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