Lessons Learned

Another Thursday night, and poet Victoria Slotto has us mining the depths of childhood memories to come up with a poem to share for dVerse Meeting the Bar. Join in if you can, it’s sure to be fun! (Interesting that the first memory I thought of had me perched in a tree, as in the poem Victoria shared in her article. They couldn’t keep me out of trees as a kid!)

Lessons Learned
I hauled the schoolbooks
to my study, a sturdy
sheet of plywood
wedged between welcoming
limbs of an oak.
                           Perched high
with a hundred
melodious friends,
a canteen of water and
a Case knife for whittling,
I settled in to learn my lessons.
I learned to blow
through cupped hands
and call the mourning dove.
I mocked the mocking bird;
shared a rasping laugh with Mrs. Crow—
K-haw! K-haw!
I discovered that the cardinal’s
curt tweet announced his
dazzling flash of red.
                                  Overhead
buzzards floated without flapping,
tight soundless circles notifying
of the dead nearby.
Filled with knowledge, 
I scampered
down
to answer Mom’s call to supper.
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34 thoughts on “Lessons Learned

  1. nice…we built a tree house as well…was a fun place to retreat….love how you capture the life around you and what you discovered up there…it was much the same for me as well…thanks for bringing back some good memories….

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  2. Ah, your study sounds like a most interesting place. So much to learn there, not all of it from books! Love the idea of calling the Mourning Dove. But still, when it is time for supper, you eagerly heed the call. Loved this, Nico.

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  3. magic…just sitting alone with the birds, listening, gosh I used to do that when I'd go riding in the bush…then let my horse graze and I'd just sit…listen…there's so much to learn from listening to nature… what a beautiful memory to have. Another wonderful poem Nico… I do so enjoy your poetry.

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  4. Now you made me recall blowing through cupped hands and making sounds/calls ~ Seeing nature up so close was very fulfilling, until it was time to go home ~ Enjoyed this Nico ~

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  5. Thanks Di–even today I spend an inordinate amount of time listening to the birds. My kids laugh and call me the crazy bird guy. I just want to know the language of the creatures I live with, human or not.

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  6. Thanks Grace–not bragging or anything, but I can make a dove call that is perfectly pitched. I should be able to, given the amount of time I devoted to practice!

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  7. nice…unfortunately i never learned to blow
    through cupped hands…sigh…but it's never too late maybe…? smiles… tree houses are such magical places…much enjoyed write nico

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  8. nice, nico; having studied birds and learned all their calls I can appreciate that part of this ,,,but also being called into the house when it got to be too late to be outside..cool to have a treehouse!

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  9. Ya know what I liked — the buzzards. So real – the pretense of a pretty poem drops and I really am lookin' up the tree at the kid and the buzzards above. It was fun to watch my mind stop treating the poem as 'just fiction'.

    Will all the fun alliterations, 100 birds and the image of you up in a tree with all your school books made it fictitious to start. But that buzzard brought it back down to earth — to tear at reality and fill my belly.

    Fun write, Nico

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  10. So much can be learnt from viewing nature at its rawest and we become aware of the cruelty (of the need to survive)that exists beneath its surface beauty.

    So much to be learnt from books – giving us wider horizons – but observing the natural world shows us reality.

    Anna :o]

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  11. Thanks Katy–I always had to be called in. During the summer, especially, I only went inside to eat dinner and supper. Unless I was grounded, the worst punishment parents ever devised. I'd take a whuppin' any day!

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  12. Thanks Sabio. This is what's so fun about the whole truth/fiction thing. This one is . . . all truth. The tree, the knife, the plywood, the canteen, the birds, the schoolbooks (I did a lot of homework up in that tree!)–every detail comes from real life. One thing I didn't tell: using buzzards as aerial guides (and sometimes my sense of smell), I often tried to find what dead animal was nearby. I didn't see it as morbid, just curious.

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  13. I did some sloppy editing in my response and left out an important point for discussion. I meant to ask: In what way would the poem read differently for you, had any (or all) of the details been fabricated? Can something true be told even by myth, legend, imagination, fiction?

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  14. …with a hundred of melodious friends… ah, yes… that makes a rather lovely companion… you have a rich childhood memories that i can almost relate as a child growing in rural lands and that mum's call – ah, i missed that these days… smiles…

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  15. you had some rather interesting teachers up there in that tree. with all those different bird calls, the call that stands out for me is the final one drawing you back to your own nest. a really lovely read.

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