Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Judith Sanders: First Lesson

Children, if I told you I’d teach you

everything you need to know,

would you know to be suspicious?

Take this pebble here.  One, you say, 

of many.  All mere chips of boulders, 

once jagged, now polished 

in the tumbler of tide-churned sand.

Good.  Yet I will teach you

which to lift from the multitude 

along the shore, how to close your eyes 

and assess this particular pebble’s 

cool weight in your palm,

the diameter of its smoothness,

the course it traveled over the seabed, 

what will happen if you take it home.

How its jewel glint will dull as it dries.

How your fingers will rediscover it 

in the linty depths of a pocket 

and how you will wonder why 

this lump mattered enough 

to carry it so far.  How perhaps, 

even still, it will recall to you 

the array of scattered stones, 

the fanning waves, the granular sands, 

wet, then dry, on your unshod feet,

the seal heads popping up, 

the sweep of cloudless sky.

How you stood there, 

among the wheeling seabirds,

and grasped momentarily

how time moves and stands still, 

how you are as broad as the universe

and as minuscule, as fragile, 

as the fractured, discarded shells,

half-buried in the shifting hillocks,

which could cut your mortal sole.

How you too are one dull chip 

off the old block of primal matter

among countless strewn millions

tumbled and worn by tides,

yet you too are matchless 

when gleaming.  That’s what

this lesson can teach you.

Ready?  Open your book.


Copyright 2020 Judith Sanders

3 comments on “Judith Sanders: First Lesson

  1. Miriam DeRiso
    December 28, 2020

    I absolutely love this poem–how it captures our wisdom with time inside of us, and our wish to share this wisdom with our children. To save their mortal “sole”, and help them see the value in the moment-to-moment, the remembering, and the bigger picture….To be young and walking on the beach…to be old (we need a better word—“wizened/deepened/humbled”….walking on the beach.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Barbara Huntington
    December 28, 2020

    My 11 year old granddaughter is staying with me and came into my bedroom to read me a story she is writing about rhinos. Her prose are rich and I feel happy. Before getting up I checked Vox Populi and read her this poem. She loved the “ would you know to be suspicious?” And the part about lint in the pocket and said she had been there. I love watching her bloom and love the smooth rocks she exclaims over on my little altar. This was one of those priceless moments. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on December 28, 2020 by in Poetry, spirituality and tagged , .

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