April 11, 2012

A poem for a whale...and my family

It's no secret that I love children. I babysat my way through high school and college, forming relationships with kids and their parents that have lasted ever since. I spent an amazing summer working with developmentally-disabled pre-schoolers. I talk a ton about my own Zoe, as seen on this blog.

So it's no surprise that, in addition to my zombies and my monsters and my Frankenstein girl, I've been doing some writing for kids this year.  I've posted two stories here already.

But I'm not a poet. Seriously. I am NOT a poet.

Still. I have this funny little cousin, about five years old. She's the daughter of my first-cousin, and I love stories about her. She's a clever little thing, with gorgeous blonde curls, and if we ever get Zoe and her together, the results would be epic.

At Christmastime this past year, she wanted NOTHING other than a whale from Santa Claus. Nothing. The story caught my attention.

Because my uncle passed away a number of years ago, before this little girl was even born. And he...loved...whales. He wore a whale tail charm on a chain around his neck; my aunt, his wife, wears it to this day.

So I thought about my little cousin, and her whale, and I had to do something.

So I wrote, and this time it came out in little rhyming verses.

It was terrible poetry, I'm sure, but it was a sweet little story, so I typed it up and sent it to her mom. Apparently my baby cousin loved it, and they printed a copy, framed it, and hung it on the wall in her bedroom.

That's pretty high praise, in and of itself.

But then, the other day, it got even nicer.

It was my uncle's birthday. Every year, my cousin has her children decorate little paper lanterns and they set them afloat in a river at the beautiful park at which my uncle's memorial service was held. Those lanterns are supposed to light the way for my uncle to come home for a little visit.

This year, when my cousin asked her 5-year-old daughter if she wanted to write something on her lantern, something special to say to her grandfather, the little girl lit up. She knew exactly what she wanted to say. She ran to her bedroom, pulled down my silly little poem, and asked her mother to write two lines from it on her lantern. She wanted to use my words to talk to her grandfather.

They floated the lanterns down the river the next day, and I like to think my uncle got to read what I wrote. At least a piece of it.

I can think of no higher praise or accomplishment than that.


Squirty's Poem

I want a whale for Christmas.
Only a whale’ll do.
We’ll find each other at the dock
And swim the ocean blue.

A whale is soft, not slimy,
A truly gentle beast.
He’ll carry me upon his back
On our way to a fishy feast.

I think he’ll be blue with polka dots,
This giant whale of mine,
With eyes as big as pie plates,
And fins so velvet-fine.

I want a whale for Christmas,
And a whale I think I’ll get.
He’ll be waiting under my Christmas tree,
He’ll get my brother’s presents wet.

No one will mess with me
When they see me with my whale.
He’d beat up all the boys at school
With one WHISH of his tale.

I’ll be like a superhero!
Whale Girl with her sidekick friend.
We’ll rescue sailors from pirates.
Trouble on the seas would end.

I want a whale for Christmas.
And a whale I know it must be.
He’ll swim me up to Heaven
For special time with my Grandpa and me.

‘Cuz my Grandpa? He loved whales,
And wore a tail upon a chain.
He’d stare at the ocean looking for spouts
Which would fall to the water like rain.

With my whale we’d ride together.
We’d fly across the waves.
If the three of us were together
I’d never not be brave .

I want a whale for Christmas
Only a whale’ll do
My whale, and me and Grandpa?
We’ll swim the ocean blue.


Anonymous said...

Thank you. I'm glad you were a part of the lighting ceremony this year and lines from your "silly poem" will travel to Uncle D. You don't have to be a poet, your words have meaning and are special.

Anonymous said...

there has never been and will never be a literary award in history to top your "lantern award". love from the keeper of the whale's tale.

Leah said...


Anonymous said...

Hey Leah,

Just noticed you from Janet Reid's blog and thought I'd pop by your blog. This is the sweetest story ever!

My blogging friend Monica did/does something similar. She makes a picture book for her neices and nephews every Christmas using photographs of her dog and its toys as the characters. So cute.

Love the poem!


Leah said...

Aw! That's so cute! I may have to try something like what Monica did!

Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting! :) Glad you enjoyed the story.

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