Thursday, November 18, 2010

A poorly spelled yet astounding poem


My son, Oliver, is nine years old and struggles mightily with reading and writing. He was recently diagnosed with a learning disability, and when I sat at his IEP,  I thought to myself Really? I'm at an IEP with another child? Don't I get a pass? Evidently not, and I can attest to many agonizing moments with The Big O as we struggle together with his homework. The learning issues, combined with a personality that is about as far from meek and mild as one can get, and my own often teetering on the edge lack of patience make for blazing fires and shouts and breakdowns. The drama! The drama!

So, as I was folding laundry in my room last night, Oliver walked in with his spiral notebook and read this poem to me.

A Dream

by Oliver 

A dream isn't just anything
It is like a spirit deep down in our soul
Like a black hole waiting to be opened
like flowing water trying to escape
pushing
pushing
then 
Boom
it opens




 I thought, for a moment, that he had copied it from somewhere and I asked him where he'd heard it. 

I wrote it, Mom! he said. It's my homework.**  And he showed me the page in his notebook that I've copied above. 

I know, you can't read it, he said, I'm a terrible speller.

I felt like crying when he read it to me again. Not because I had doubted him but because I just felt overwhelmed by him and his presence -- his strange and wild person-hood. The drama! The drama! The love. I knelt beside him and put my hands on his shoulders. He let me pull him into a hug as I exclaimed over the beauty of what he'd written and then agreed to show it to all of you.


**He is currently working on memorizing a Langston Hughes poem called A Dream Deferred and the assignment was to write a poem in that style. When I looked up the Hughes poem, I half-expected to see Oliver's poem, verbatim, or at least some of the words plagiarized. I found nothing. Oliver told me that he liked the way the poet compared things. I'm still amazed.

41 comments:

  1. this is stunning!
    thank you for opening me like a perfect dream this morning.
    xoxoxoox,
    rebecca

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh goodness me...LEMME AT HIM! I mean he has the knack. My son started writing poetry at 3 and he couldn't write or spell he still can't very well but so what he's a poet a creative genius the real deal. Expose him to all the poetry you can find.
    love,
    Rebecca

    ReplyDelete
  3. See...these kids...the waters run deep, deep, deep. It's what makes them so amazing and so difficult. To love them is to hold the universe in your arms.

    ReplyDelete
  4. It could be put to music ... Amazing. I would say this kid Is gifted.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Absolutely tremendous. Brought tears to my own eyes.

    You've got one heck of an artist on your hands there.

    ReplyDelete
  6. this makes me cry. the poem, the love, the drama of it all... his heart expressed in these words.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This makes my eyes fill. Finding the brilliance in our children when they don't fit molds...

    what a beautiful poem, Elizabeth. the expression is just gorgeous. i'd be so proud, too.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Wow. Your son is a very talented writer. Please tell him I said that!

    ReplyDelete
  9. It is astounding, isn't it? The thoughts that swirl around in their little heads. What an amazing little guy.

    ReplyDelete
  10. that is amazing. you should be one proud mama.

    poetry is great for kids to express themselves because they are free from rules and grammar and punctuation.

    Wonderful stuff!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Gorgeous, just like the kid himself.
    I hope he writes a lot more poetry! Has the school suggested sensory integration work for the spelling difficulties? I know of bright kids with similar struggles that were completely resolved with SI. Made them happy.

    wv: ollypen

    ReplyDelete
  12. Makes you wonder, doesn't it? How much of poetry is about "reading and writing" and how much is about a boy's spirit?

    Just beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Your nine-year-old has the wisdom of the ancients. And the lyric understanding of innocents. Pure bliss.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I am tearing up!!! I am amazed too, though not surprised. He IS the son of an amazing writer after all :)

    Ps, I had to delete my last comment just bc of all the typos! It made no sense! I hate typing on this stupid iPad (oh, my woes!)

    ReplyDelete
  15. It's a beautiful poem. He certainly doesn't struggle with the writing, perhaps with the spelling - and that can be learned, with patience and time.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Indeed a dream is all of the things he so dearly wrote about. Spelling, "mishspelling" who cares? I often read that some of the best writers wouldn't be able to spell their way out of a brown paper bag. His soul is big, too big to hold inside his 9 year old body and fights the confines to come out, and it does in ways such as this, I for one love what I see.

    ReplyDelete
  17. "...he likes how the poet compares things."

    I am sitting here in tears.

    Yes. You do have a pass: to the miracles in your arms. Thank you for sharing this with us. Please tell Oliver that I love his poem and that I hope he keeps writing them. Millions of them.

    oh, and I am sorry to report, that of course he is not meek! Ha! how could he be? anyways, I am sure you don't want him to be anything other than whom he IS.

    One may generalize: parenting is not easy, and it never ever ever is what we expect. You inspire.

    ReplyDelete
  18. mindblowing! love to you and your poet.

    ReplyDelete
  19. The depth of thought, the expression of it...What do they say? The apple doesn't fall far from the tree?? Of course my favorite writer gives birth to another, great writer.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Astonishing gifts, and profoundly beautiful insight, delivered so matter-of-factly. Your children are wonders.

    I thought of you today, when I read this: "God comes to us, disguised as our life." (quote [from Paula D'Arcy], p.17, Things Hidden, by R. Rohr).

    ReplyDelete
  21. I would be amazed, too. Looks like you may have another poet in the family, dear.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Ah, Elizabeth! We are in a parallel universe. The Boy was diagnosed with severe dyslexia 2 years ago. He is so,so smart but struggles so terribly with reading and writing. I found a fabulous CATHOLIC school last year that specializes in special children and he has blossomed...he can go to this very expensive place because of his IEP (Yes, we have THREE IEP's in our family) and a state wide scholarship. We sit and look at famous dyslexics for hours on the internet and I tell him he is destined for greatness because of his way of thinking. We study the Einsteins and Edisons.....Edison who failed 500 times with the light bulb and our mantra in this house is Edison's reply when asked how it felt to fail 500 times,"No, no, young lady," replied Edison. "I haven't failed 500 times. I have just discovered 500 ways it won't work. I am so much closer now to finding a way that will work!" Your Oliver is gifted. Screw the "norm."

    ReplyDelete
  23. I decided long ago that IEP stands for Incredibly Exceptional Person. These kids who don't fit the 'norm' push us to expand our boundaries and end up enriching our lives so much, we ought to be grateful to have them around.

    I hope Oliver knows that spelling is way less important than the content of this poem (and his soul). Amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Oliver certainly has a gift for arranging a series of words into something that makes us feel.

    ReplyDelete
  25. thank you Oliver,
    you have pierced my soul.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Brilliant - thank him for sharing.

    Gems like that make me grateful for the teaching avocation.

    ReplyDelete
  27. This is Hartley from Carolyn's computer. What an unbelievable poem! You made one mistake in your transcription - he says "trying to escape". The "trying..." is important in the context of the later "boom"!. This is wonderful. I am so dumbfounded. I want to read all his stuff, of which there will be much, I believe.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Hartley -- thank you so much! I've fixed it --

    ReplyDelete
  29. This is profoundly moving on so many levels. Thank you both for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  30. OH my God! Brilliant. Just beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Bless Oliver for giving you a glimpse of his soul. That is a poem to treasure...and that has made me feel good. His poem spoke and I heard it!

    ReplyDelete
  32. Do not worry about O. He has what it takes. Please tell him I thought his poem was just wonderful.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Amazing, truly. Spelling can be learned (or fixed by spellcheck) but you can't teach THIS. It comes from deep within a brilliant mind.

    No "passes" here either. I'm enrolling another kid into social skills therapy and the 3rd needs both SI and talk therapy (and lotsa blood tests) Sigh.

    ReplyDelete
  34. OK. So. First, I'm totally impressed by that poem and all I can think is who needs reading and writing when you can hear and speak and have an iPad. That poem is genius.

    Second, The Big O TOTALLY GETS Langston Hughes.

    wow

    xoxoxo

    ReplyDelete
  35. Now THAT is important paperwork. Oh the beauty! I love it!!!

    ReplyDelete
  36. His mind is fine just the way it is. He will figure out how to adapt to a world of better spellers, but this gift is his alone.

    ReplyDelete
  37. As a spec ed teacher, I have an Oliver, too; he is the most insightful, sincere kid in the room and can't spell a lick. (I recently wrote a funny story about him: http://www.halfpastkissintime.com/2010/11/human-body-acronyms-or-not.html)

    The poem is stunning. God bless your beautiful boy :)

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...