Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Sara Holbrook - Crystal Apples

Crystal Apples
Sara Holbrook

The finest features of accomplishment
cannot be mirrored in the glazed eyes and fixed smile of a trophy
designed to stand alone, shelf‑bound, a headstone on what was.
Feet atop a pedestal are no longer on the ground, making tracks.
Did you ever try to sink your teeth into a crystal apple?
Or wrap a commemorative plaque about your knees to keep you warm?
Put press clippings in the gas tank when you're running a little late?

Success may invite you to the podium and clap you on the back,
but it won't call you on the phone next day to ask how you are doing
or help to plow your next row across the sky.
It always sets a timer -- a day, a month, a year,
and urges others to keep their distance
while you try to keep your balance on your own.

Which is why busy hands can't be bothered with trophies,
they know to let loose before next bell,
and that the true voice of accomplishment
hasn't a place at the head table at all.
She waits at the bottom of the stairs, beside the stage,
wearing a stretched‑out T shirt
from a concert she only heard about,
hiding her heart behind a ragged folder of poems.

Her voice, humble‑headed as a snowdrop,
precarious to watch,
but filled with a blooming determination to spite the odds.
A fragile voice at risk of being trampled in the rush to the next pursuit.
Licking a shy smile from dry teeth, her eyes reach out,
as she taps your attention on the arm.

The moment stops, two figures against a blur,
joined at the hands and eyes.

You changed my life.

© Sara Holbrook. All rights reserved.

Oh, sure, Sara Holbrook, be that way. Many of us have thanked teachers or recognized their hard work in some way, but look at what you go and do! Perfect phrases all strung together, fabulous images and deep emotion all in one poem. OK, fine - thank you for capturing a sentiment so many of us have felt, even if our specifics are different than the ones you mention. But boy oh boy... you do raise the bar.

Of course, if you've read a lot of Sara Holbrook's poetry, you probably aren't surprised to see her nail a subject so perfectly. Whatever she writes about (and per her website, she writes mostly about two things - what she knows and what she wonders about) she gets to the essence of it, whether she's making you laugh or going for the heart or both at once. To top it all off, like with Allan Wolf earlier this month, I've also hear that seeing Sara, whether you're a student or a teacher, is a true treat. I've still got that to look forward to, but for now I'm just happy to have Sara here at GottaBook as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday we met The Secretive Subtractor thanks to Steven Withrow. Tomorrow... Mary Quattlebaum with Earthworm! For more on 30 Poets/30 Days and ways to follow along, please click here.


tanita✿davis said...

This one is gorgeous.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Captivating!

GrandCanyonReadingTeacher said...

This is so profound and wonderful! I'll never get a crystal apple, but I know that I am touching lives... because those teachers who have touched my life are still touching it and teaching me all these years later. This poem puts all that sentiment into words. Thank you, Sara Holbrook!

jama said...

Bravo for the brilliance!

*thunderous applause*

Amy LV said...

"Her voice, humble‑headed as a snowdrop..." Yes. The voices of my former teachers are still teaching me, still changing my life. Thank you, Sara, for this beautiful tribute.

Liz Brownlee said...

Oh, wow. Made me cry. I didn't expect that. Lovely.

Charles Waters said...

Sara is something else eh? So glad she's part of 30/30. Please look up her poems ARE YOU THE ONE and ON THE RISE. You'll be happy you did.