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  • Poem of the Day: How I Discovered Poetry
    It was like soul-kissing, the way the words
    filled my mouth as Mrs. Purdy read from her desk.
    All the other kids zoned an hour ahead to 3:15,
    but Mrs. Purdy and I wandered lonely as clouds borne
    by a breeze off Mount Parnassus. She must have seen
    the darkest eyes in the room brim: The next day
    she gave me a poem she’d chosen especially for me
    to read to the all except for me white class.
    She smiled when she told me to read it, smiled harder,
    said oh yes I could. She smiled harder and harder
    until I stood and opened my mouth to banjo playing
    darkies, pickaninnies, disses and dats. When I finished
    my classmates stared at the floor. We walked silent
    to the buses, awed by the power of words.

    Marilyn Nelson, “How I Discovered Poetry” from The Fields of Praise: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 by Marilyn Nelson. Reprinted with the permission of Louisiana State University Press.

    Source: The Fields of Praise: New and Selected Poems(1997)

    Marilyn Nelson

    More poems by this author


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