What Price Education?

Snow Days. Children building snowmen. Weatherman told a true story last night when he forecast the winter storm for parts of Arkansas. That’s my true sentence for today’s writing.
Interesting stats showed on Facebook when people discussed whether local schools would close because of the weather forecast. As one family waited for the phone call announcing the school’s decision, the father said his child thought the school secretary was better than Santa Claus.
An unexpected free day from school is exciting for kids and I imagine for teachers, as well. Coming on a Monday, it’s a bonus.
If I were in charge of running the schools, I’d give the youngsters more time to grow up in the home environment. Even with a working mother, the child who spends time with a relative, a babysitter, or in daycare can still enjoy the experience of being just a child. When little children begin school so very young, and leave the house so early and stay away long hours, they are exchanging something for that. They’re paying a price for their education. Not to mention that, as they get older, their homework and participation in school sports, after hours, are time and energy-consuming––but it is part of the package. What a price!

* * *

Eggs for Bubble Gum

I traded eggs, still warm, for bubble gum
and always gave my baby sister some.
We blew big bubbles like balloons of pink,
until they burst and stuck upon our cheeks.
We both blew bubbles quickly as a blink.
I liked the gum I got from Peddler Weeks
and always gave my baby sister some.
I traded eggs, still warm, for bubble gum.

c Copyright 1996, Freeda Baker Nichols
Published in Poems by Poets’ Roundtable of Arkansas

A Mother’s Celebrity
Today I saw a cenotaph
near where the children played,
and there for hours I stayed
and thought I heard the children laugh,
for carved upon a stone
by little hands unknown,
I found a famous autograph.

c Copyright,1993, Freeda Baker Nichols
Published in Tradition

Birthdays and Poems

During a phone conversation with my sister in California last night, I learned that her second grandbaby could possibly be born today, February 12, on Abe Lincoln’s birthday. How awesome that would be for the baby girl to share a birthday with the 16th president of the United States. However, this day is coming to a close and no word yet of the baby’s birth. Perhaps she will wait until her actual due date, February 17, the birthday of her paternal grandfather. That would be awesome, also.
Speaking of Abraham Lincoln and researching his birth, I find that his birth was two hundred and three years ago. And thinking of the Civil War and Margaret Mitchell’s classic “Gone with the Wind,” which is set in that era, I think of this poem to share.

All That Remains

Water . . . sipped from jar
at end of cotton row
cooled my body
from the hot-poker sun
browning my skin. Once . . .
I spilled the jar . . . drops
of water bubble-danced
in dust . . . then powder-dried,
Mama said, “Like blood caked . . .
on faces . . . of Rebel soldiers.”
I ran my index finger under my
nose and jerked my pick-sack up
short. You’ve still got me, Mama,
I wanted to shout, but kept silent.
Daniel had been her firstborn.

c Copyright, 2000, Freeda Baker Nichols
Published in Encore, NFSPS, 2000

Oh, Valentine

Valentine’s Day is getting close. The calendar, chocolates on the store shelves, cards and fresh rose bouquets all announce that the special day will soon arrive.  When I was a child in elementary school, a boy in my class gave me a handmade card for Valentine’s Day.  The card was pretty, decorated with white paper lace. The other classmates chanted, “Freeda and Ed are going to wed!”  Their prediction did not happen, but I never forgot the card, the boy, or the singsong rhyme of the chant meant to tease Edward and me.

How much influence did that experience have on my becoming a poet? I wonder. The following poem was created for a Poets’ Roundtable of Arkansas competition.

Oh, Valentine

Oh, Valentine, to make you smile

on days when rain is cold and damp,

I will dress up in lace and style.

I will go down the darkest mile

to guide you like a shining lamp,

oh, Valentine, to make you smile.

I’ll write love letters all the while

until my fingers start to cramp.

I will dress up in lace and style.

Be mine, I say to reconcile

and ask if you will be my champ––

oh, Valentine, to make you smile.

To keep away the crocodile,

I’ll stand as guard beside your camp.

I will dress up in lace and style.

When I lock up my domicile,

upon my door will be this stamp:

oh, Valentine, to make you smile,

I will dress up in lace and style.

c Copyright, 2000, Freeda Baker Nichols