Poetry Friday: “Ice” by Marilyn Singer

Little Brother has gone off to school today with his sledge in tow, very chirpy about the early dump of snow we have had in the UK. As I expressed concern about the drive over steep, rural roads to get him there, his touchingly confident, “Don’t worry, Dad can handle it,” just showed the gulf between his vision of the wintery landscape and mine. So I am particularly drawn this morning to Marilyn Singer’s “Ice” from her book of poems Footprints on the Roof: Poems about the Earth (Alfred Knopf, 2002):

[...] Out on the street
Dad windmilled like a slapstick dancer
Mom crept like a mincing crab
We tried to tell them
ice respects no one
If you can’t lick it
trick it
But they didn’t want to hear
Then we looped our scarves across our faces
so they couldn’t see us laugh
and slid across the sidewalk
like the earth was one big rink

Yes, that about hits the nail on the head. I love the allusion to the scarves as well. They use them to stifle their giggles, whereas I am fussing to make sure they’re wrapped up warmly enough.

In the book, the poem is simply and effectively illustrated by Meilo So. Her blend of solid delineation and soft, calligraphic brush strokes throughout the book help to bring the poems alive. A definite favorite in our household is the volcano poem “Dormant Dragons” and its accompanying illustration. Having been introduced to Marilyn Singer’s work through Poetry Friday (thank you, fellow bloggers!), I have been collecting some of her books, and it was Meilo So’s cover art that immediately drew me to this particular poetry book and the rest of the series it belongs to. You can read more about that, including what Marilyn Singer herself says about it, as well as some more poems, in a recent post by Tricia over at The Miss Rumphius Effect. Marilyn also has the poem “Burrows” on her website. You can read a 2003 interview with Meilo here, and see some of her art in our Gallery Feature here and on her blog. And since Meilo lives in the Shetland Isles, I’m sure she can empathise with my choice of poem today, too!

This week’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Ms Mac at Check It Out. Head on over!


9 Responses to “Poetry Friday: “Ice” by Marilyn Singer”

  1. Andromeda Jazmon Says:

    Love the perspectives in this poem. Ice is one thing you need the flexibility and fun sense of youth to trick, for sure.

  2. Tabatha Says:

    I second Andi’s sentiments. I am also a bit envious, as I am looking forward to out first snow!

  3. Tabatha Says:

    I meant “our first snow”! Misspelled words drive me crazy.

  4. Tara Says:

    I love that sense of kids in the know…and how they hide their mirth behind their scarves. Thanks for all the links as well – this is why I love the round up – it gives you a chance to meander through poetry.

  5. Blythe Says:

    I have a theory that you can separate the young from the old not by the years they’ve been alive, but by their attitude toward snow and icy weather. This poem is perfect. There is something irresistible about a patch of ice… step-step-sliiiide, step-step-sliiiide.

    We have a lovely lot of snow and ice. I probably enjoy it more because I’m not a car-driving person.

  6. Rasco from RIF Says:

    Thanks for the ice poem….I did not grow up with much ice experience in Arkansas. One tree that met up with my car on a rare “ice day” shows its scar to this day, 30 years later. My son who was in the car with me when the “meeting” occurred laughs with me each time we pass that tree. I will share this poem with him.

  7. Julie Larios Says:

    What a lovely book – thanks for posting Marilyn’s poem, and thanks for drawing my attention to the illustrator whose work I hadn’t seen before (or hadn’t taken the time to sit down with.)

  8. Marjorie Says:

    Thank you, all, for your comments. I’ve been nodding and smiling as I read them – and, Carol, you made me laugh… rather ruefully, actually. With me it was the tree that suddenly grew just as I was reversing out of a parking space… My two point it out to me every time we go past now.

  9. Corinne Says:

    Perfect timing for this lovely poem as we had our first (and hopefully last!) snowfall last week. Now I know why my kids were so insistent on wearing scarves but not mittens!