Here in Missouri
by Jen Bryant
“Maybe you had to leave in order to really miss a place;
maybe you had to travel to figure out how beloved
your starting point was.” —Jodi Picoult, Handle With Care
I miss my kitchen sink,
the white ribbon of water hissing from the faucet’s
slim neck, the black hose
with its trigger handle propped like a beached
sea-horse in one corner. I miss
the little dish that clicks so neatly
to the center of the drain, keeping the rejected
noodles and peas from slipping away.
Nine hundred miles from home,
I miss the turn-crank on the window,
where I watch three times each day
the feathered creatures come to peck
our suet block sandwiched
between wire and wood, suctioned to the
pane with plastic cups. The chickadees,
shy and deliberate, hang on with one
leg, peck around the edges, then flee
into the hedge. The nuthatch, a streamlined
black-capped clown, gulps great chunks
of fat, swallows, then zig-zags up
the trunk of a maple. The spotted
big-bodied flicker with the swipe of scarlet
on his head, plummets
from the nearest poplar and drills with German
precision into the thickest spot,
then strokes back home. Given wings
and the gift of navigation, the means
to traverse oceans and continents, they rest
year after year on this humble acre
where the laundry snaps on a metal tree,
and the water runs in ribbons through a basin
before heading out to sea.
(Originally published in Poet Lore.)
Jen Bryant writes picture books, novels, and poems for readers of all ages. Her books have received the Sibert Medal, two Caldecott Honors, the Schneider Family Book Award, the Orbis Pictus Award, and a Charlotte Zolotow Honor. Jen’s forthcoming book, Feed Your Mind—A Story of August Wilson, illustrated by Cannaday Chapman is due out in November from Abrams Books for Young Readers. She lives with her family in Glenmoore, PA, where she tries to be an optimistic Phillies fan. You can find out more about Jen at her website (www.jenbryant.com) and on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/jenbryant.author).
SUMMER STARTERS: Looking for new writing/illustrating ideas? Is the weather hot, but your mind cool? If so, then check out these prompts from award-winning children’s author (and EPA-SCBWI member) Tony Fredericks. Ready! Set! Go!
- The power of a smile.
- Rascal is the meanest of cats. Nobody likes him and nobody wants him. Nobody, that is, until he meets up with the meanest of people—Cranky Mr. Baddley.
- It was a magic broom. It could clean his room in less than one minute. He decided to sell it to the highest bidder.