March 20, 2017

When I was 16 I fell in love, not only with a boy, but with e.e. cummings, all things piano, wildflowers, and motorcycles.

On this first day of spring, so many years later, I remember clearly one night when I stayed up extremely late finishing a research paper on e.e. cummings. Now that I think about it, I seem to remember that I was writing to compare Beatles’ lyrics with some favorite poems of e.e. cummings. Still an interesting topic to me!

My mother was an excellent typist. She very kindly typed my paper, starting at the beginning while I was finishing the ending. It wasn’t the first or last time we tag-teamed to get my homework done. That was in the day when typewriters had no correction key, so every mistake had to either be erased or touched up with white-out. Fortunately, my mother didn’t make many mistakes. Her piano playing fingers learned the patterns of words easily. Being used to hours of practice each week, she had Stamina (yes, capital S).

She typed on onion-skin paper. It was less expensive than bond paper and mistakes were more easily corrected on it. I loved the way the paper was thin and crinkly. It sounded cool when you turned the pages.

When my paper was all typed, my mom went to bed. I remember reading it over while sitting on the floor of my bedroom.  I was wearing an old navy blue robe that I snagged before my mother could give it to Goodwill. (I loved that robe. It was so cozy and soft.) While reading my paper, I decided that I wanted to make it special. So when the house got silent and no one was up, I quietly got a cup of water and my watercolors . I illustrated each poem included in the text as best I could, knowing that I wasn’t very good at art. But somehow that didn’t matter because I had a teacher whom I loved. I knew she would understand my attempt and not judge me. In the quiet of the night, I felt free to be myself and smiled as I tried to paint “mudluscious” and “puddle wonderful.” (from e.e. cummings “in just spring”)

Listen to e.e. cummings read his poem here:

balloonman

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3 comments on “March 20, 2017

  1. carolmcbroom says:

    This is lovely- both your prose and art. What a fun memory to share and how precious was your mother. 🙂 I can remember that soft paper.

  2. Ramona says:

    Oh, I remember typing friend’s papers in college…while they were still writing. Love that you grabbed your watercolors to illustrate the poems because you had a teacher who loved you and wouldn’t judge you.

  3. So many of your precise details made this story so strong. I can hear the onion paper’s crinkle!

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