“Mom, how come you have that poem taped to the end of our bunk beds?” Girl asked a few weeks ago.
She was referring to this:
“A Supple Cord”My brother, in his small white bed,
held one end.
I tugged the other
to signal I was still awake.
We could have spoken,
could have sung
to one another,
we were in the same room
for five years,
but the soft cord
with its little frayed ends
in the dark,
even if we had been bickering
When he fell asleep first
and his end of the cord
dropped to the floor,
I missed him terribly,
though I could hear his even breath
and we had such long and separate lives
–by Naomi Shihab Nye
My response, as is my wont, had many layers and went on at great length.
First, I told her, “Well, I like this poem because it reminds me of you and Niblet and how lucky you are to have each other and to be each other’s special person for all of your lives. You know, Dad and I will die someday–not for a long time, we hope, not until cars can fly and fold up into briefcases that we then tote into our offices as we’re carried along by a moving sidewalk–and most likely you and your brother will have a lot of years of life without us. So it’s a comfort to know you’ll always have each other, even after you grow up and go off and do your own things.”
Girl nodded warily, distracted by the idea of briefcase cars.
Then I told her, “Plus, I like this poem because it shows how sharing a room can bring brothers and sisters together. I mean, do your pals K and J share a room?”
“Do they get along?”
“NO! They fight all the time!”
“That’s what I mean. How about your other buddies Q and M? Do they share a room?”
“Oh, yea,” she said, sucking on the ends of her hair and contemplating.
“And do they get along?”
“Totally! They never fight.”
“So, Girl, do you think there’s a connection? How about you and Niblet?”
“We share a room, and he’s my best friend!” she screamed joyously, as the pieces fell into place. Our bodies flushed with the pleasure of a communal comprehension.
Point made. Case rested. Next question?
“Mom, when can I have my own room?”