When I was in second grade, my school held an elocution contest. I think my K-6 grade school made a school assignment out of it for each class, requiring every student to memorize and recite a poem, verse, monologue or whatever. I remember one of my second grade buddies recited a Shel Silverstein poem about being eaten by a boa constrictor. Her mom, ever the crafty homemaker, designed a brown sheath that my friend kept pulling up over her legs, abdomen, and finally head as she moved on to what the snake was eating next. What an over-achiever.
Once all the students had performed their piece for their classmates, the teachers picked some of the better ones (Snake-girl and I both made the cut) and a big school production was made out of it. We elocuted our little hearts out on the stage in front of parents, siblings, peers and various school administrators. What else is there to do in the winter of Alaska??
I have no idea where I got my poem, I think one of my teachers found it for me, but I always had fond memories of it. I think I was so enamored of it, maybe it triggered my life-long fascination with words. I lost the written text soon after the contest (where I received second place for the second grade) but I remembered bits and pieces of it for a long time. In one of my random internet searches the other day, I came across this site for poems about poems. And there it was:
How to Eat a Poem -
by Eve Merriam
- Don't be polite.
- may run down your chin.
It is ready and ripe now, whenever you are.
You do not need a knife or fork or spoon
or plate or napkin or tablecloth.
For there is no core
to throw away.
Pick it up with your fingers and lick the juice that