Saturday, June 12, 2010

School Picnic

(click on poem to enlarge text for reading)
John Logan (1923 - 87)
American poet and teacher

I came across this poem my Senior year in high school, in one of my favorite poetry books, Some Haystacks Don't Even Have Any Needle (see yesterday's post). At my high school, we no longer had anything as quaint as a class picnic, thus the poem appealed to my certainty that the former days had been better, sweeter, than the charmless era in which my friends and I were growing up. We yearned for the romance of "The Picnic," the gently unfolding narrative, the pastoral imagery.

Ruth is the poet's date for the school picnic; and although he admits that she was only "third on my list of seven girls," he is pleased to spend the day with her and finds himself falling in love for the very first time:

We went for our lunch away from the rest,
Stretched in the new grass, our heads close . . .
And our hands were together. She laughed,
And a breeze caught the edge of her little
Collar and the edge of her brown, loose hair . . .
I felt a soft caving in my stomach
As at the top of the highest slide
When I had been a child, but was not afraid . . .

Ruth seems so cool, calm, and collected, sifting sea shells through her fingers and offering them as a souvenir of the special day:

And Ruth played with some shells from the creek,
As I watched. Her small wrist which was so sweet
To me turned by her breast and the shells dropped
Green, white, blue, easily into her lap,
Passing light through themselves. She gave the pale
Shells to me, and got up and touched her hips
With her light hands, and we walked down slowly
To play the school games with the others.

School Games

For more on "The Picnic" see
my current post "Love In The Open Hand"
my literary blog of connection and coincidence

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