When people ask me where I grew up, I usually say “California”, or maybe “the Bay Area”. A more accurate answer would be: Peninsula School. I still don’t have a good way to describe what it means to be a Peninsula kid, and I have been trying for nearly 10 years. Maybe this poem will work better.
It has something to do with the feel
of oak leaves beneath my bare feet
and a rough rope-swing sliding
between my palms until–
catch, jump, swing.
An open door to an empty classroom.
The smell of freshly unwound
string on a loom.
The cool shade of a giant
A quiet library, Misha
(or, Conan the Librarian)
introducing my first loves:
Alanna, White Fang, Island
of the the Blue Dolphins
In my band, singing louder
than pretty. Learning instruments;
rocking to “Johnny B. Good”,
“Secret Agent-Man” and
Dirt in scabbed knees. Proud
of not crying after getting knocked over
Calluses on my hands from monkey-bars
and climbing trees.
“If you can’t climb the tree alone,
you don’t get to climb it.”
Most of what I learned at Peninsula are not nameable achievements and do not fit into my resume. But you can see its effects through my life. The focus on social justice, the small groups of close friends, the obsession with fairness and distaste for purposeless hierarchy. Also the attachment to libraries, the haphazard dress style, the confusion about political leanings. The need for music.
People ask me what my common thread is, what holds my interests together.
My common thread is Peninsula.
Tell the readers a story! Because without a story, you are merely using words to prove you can string them together in logical sentences.
I’d like to send your poem to Peninsula to put in their newsletter. Ok?