National Poetry Month Day 29: “A Children’s Story” by Mary Biddinger


Welcome to The Rumpus’s National Poetry Month project. We’ll be running a new poem from a different poet each day for the month of April.

A Children’s Story

One snowflake was a lantern, the other
a shellfish. They were unnatural enemies.

It took hours for the lantern to realize
its shirt was inside out. Pathetic lantern.

The shellfish wanted deeper, so patriotic.
It jumped turnstiles. Lit the cigarettes

of beautiful women who didn’t know
how to smoke. One snowflake was shy

but not really. They both alleged loving
beds, believed beds were everywhere.

One snowflake hid in the red wire
beard of a dead man. The other ate

a quick brunch at the Walnut Room.
That snowflake had an old Austrian

grandfather. Who didn’t have an old
Austrian grandfather in Chicago, circa

1978? Even old Austrian grandfathers
told stories of their own progenitors.

The best craftsmen could carve a cage
from an egg noodle, a spider from two

glasses of water. One granddaughter
left her tankard of water on the porch

overnight. The sky took it. Deep in
a shed, her old Austrian grandfather

whittled a kerosene lantern out of snow,
saved scraps and threw them in the lake.

Mary Biddinger

If you like what the Rumpus is doing for National Poetry Month, you’ll probably like this multimedia anthology of original poems we’ve run at The Rumpus over the last three years. Available only for iPad. Check it out!

Original poetry published by The Rumpus. More from this author →