Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Poem of the Day:
"Bust of a Young Boy in the Snow" by Sarah Gorham
The Best American Poetry, 2006

Tonight I attended a celebration of To Kill A Mockingbird. Published fifty years ago this month, the book was spoken of by three scholars and then the film was shown.

Gregory Peck is an attractive older man.

One of the scholars, a history professor at Boston College, spoke of Harper Lee's narrator choice: Scout. The rebellious six-year old is wise but naive, stumbling upon life lessons as if they were speed bumps on a road upon which she cannot yet legally drive.

Gorham writes of a child, a dead child. He is remembered by a bust, now laden with snow in the winter, "disarming the winter visitor" (line 4). She describes it in frank detail: "Lips apart, ear like a split/oyster, rough erosion/crawling up his nape/and, over the cheek, a verdigris birthmark" (lines 8-13). He is not yet human to her, his birthmark is described as the result of bronze being exposed to the elements. Not a birthmark of skin.

Gorham is frank like Scout. This memorial is an "unsettling head" (line 6). No one wants to be reminded that children die too. Scout almost died at the hands of Bob Ewell.

Scout's childlike soul is eternal. Her thoughts can be read as an adult, and still she seems alive, just a little farther south, keep driving and you'll find her. Gorham's child is also made eternal. But, his resurrection is unnatural and alarming to the speaker ("A little boy's eyes/in winter,/opened rigid and wide"). He is haunting.

I choose Lee's running, leaping Scout. Gorham's "tarnished dimple and fold/of neckskin" (lines 27-28) is a reminder that individual children can pass, whereas Scout and Lee remind us that childhood remains for a lifetime.

A Poem A Day Audrey


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home