Friday, September 24, 2010

figuring eight

My partner's father, Granddad Damian--a retired English professor--not only pops some British pounds into a birthday account for each of our children, but has gifted them each year with a clever handmade card and an "occasional" poem.

Yesterday Duncan turned 8 ("Well, I may be a year older, but I can still burp as well as yesterday: SOUNDEFFECCHHT!") and his card depicted an 8-shaped racetrack; Granddad's poem was the usual literary marvel full of enjambments and metaphysical turns. I won't post his poem here without permission, but it did remind me that when Daisy turned 8 she said some things about it that led to this poem. See what you think. The stanzas should be laid out in a figure of eight, with 4. at the "crossroads."

Figuring Eight
a continuous poem in eight stanzas

Everyone says
that “Eight is great!”
It’s easy
because of the rhyme.
But then I turned eight
and it IS great:

the shape, the sound, the place of eight,
8 the best snowman I ever built: a round circle on top
like my head, full of everything I know, balanced on a
round circle below like my body full of everything I can do.

I know
three different ways to write the date;
that gardening is mostly wait;
what it means when animals mate.
I can
roller-skate, and stay up late;
taste the soup I know I’ll hate;
slip the hook into the bait.

And 8 is made of
one long line that curves and turns
and crosses itself in the middle;
eight is
not too young and not too old
not too little and not too big.
Eight is great.

And here’s another thing about 8:
that one long line that curves and turns and keeps going
around and around—
a train on a track that never ends—
take that one long line and lay it down on its side and it means

8 lying down is the sign for
numbers counting themselves on and on
into the distance, a line of time that never ends.

So this is what I wish at night:
that I, lying down, am
8 to the power of infinity,

falling asleep
and waking up eight and great
every morning until time never ends.

~Heidi Mordhorst


Enjoy this week's panoply of poetic posts at TBWTSCT with Karen Edmisten!

*I'm amused by typing ARR instead of All Rights Reserved, and then I feel I have to finish it off piratically...


  1. How marvelous to have a grandfather who makes cards and writes poems. My grandmother still makes us cards for every occasion, and we love it.
    I wish I could see your "8" poem laid out! That's a great idea. I love the infinity connection.

  2. Heidi,

    I enjoyed reading your continuous poem about being eight.

    BTW, I wrote an extensive "things to do" poem post to answer the questions you left at my blog last Friday.

  3. I especially love the third stanza. Knowing what you know... at 8.

  4. Heidi--this is fantastic! Stanzas 3 and 8 are my favorite. How lucky are your kids...wrapped in poetry all the time!