Just in time for National Poetry Month, I rediscovered this little treasure while paging through one of my old notebooks. It’s a perfect example, not only of seizing the moment, but of the power of poetry to spark not only conversation, but creativity! ENJOY!
“How high can a cow jump?” my newly-minted five year old asks from the back of the car – all serious and deep in thought.
“Come again?” I ask.
“How high can a cow jump?” she repeats. “You know, COWS?” And she drags out the word C-O-W-S to make sure I really understand.
“They can’t,” I reply. “Cows can’t jump. They can moo and chew grass, and they sort of plunk along slowly, but they can’t jump.”
There’s a momentary quiet in the back and I can tell by my daughter’s squiggly brows that she’s perplexed. Finally, she says, in exasperation, “Then how did the cow jump over the moon?”
As we wait for the light to change, I consider the various ways I might answer this. “It’s just pretend,” I want to say, but this, I know, will be too abstract or her. She understands real versus make believe, in theory, but in practice she still gets scared during movies with cartoon characters. She also believes in fairies and Santa and so the distinction is still very fuzzy.
So instead, I say, “Come now, can a dish run? Can a spoon dance?”
My daughter giggles. “No!”
So I continue, “Can cats fiddle?”
“No!” she snorts between giggles.
“Do dogs laugh?” I ask.
By now, my daughter is hysterical. “Say more funny stuff!” she squeals.
So I do. “Do hamsters play flutes?” I ask. “Now your turn!”
My daughter explodes with laughter. Then she says, “No! Do fish dance ballet? Now your turn, Mommy.”
And so we continue, getting sillier and sillier with each passing car. As we head for home, it dawns on me that, as a poet and picture book author, this is exactly the kind of conversation I hope my writing will spark. And I am reminded, once again, of the power of stories and poems, to spark – not only conversation – but creativity as well!
Happy National Poetry Month all!