I am not an incredibly neat person. I like to make messes, and I am not afraid to get dirty. I’m the one with paint on her shirt and broccoli in her hair. I rejoice in the mess. I always thought my messes were my imagination and creativity flowing out. However, there is another side of me. The side that needs my bed made first thing after I wake up. The side that does the dishes right after dinner. The one who organizes her socks Marie Kondo style, folded and arranged just-so in her drawer. I need my art materials set up just the right way too. Brushes and pencils are organized in beautiful containers. A certain amount of calm wafts over me when my belongings are in the right order, ready to use. When all my things are organized, I feel confident and ready to move ahead.
Several decades ago, when I was caring for a three-year-old boy, we would often go grocery shopping together. The boy’s mother had recently died in a car accident, and I was his primary caregiver. One day, while I was pushing Henry in the grocery cart, we were picking out fruit in the produce aisle. All of a sudden, he shouted for me to stop and reached out his chubby arms. I looked to where he was pointing and saw a lone cantaloupe sitting among piles of shiny green watermelons. Henry looked up at me and said, “We have to put him back with his family. He’ll be lonely if we don’t. So, I picked up the cantaloupe, placed it in Henry’s arms, and went off to find the cantaloupe’s family. From that time on, anytime there are things out of place while I am out shopping, I put the item back where it belongs. I think of Henry and feel like I am setting the world right again, that I have just a little control over my existence.
My inspiration for “A Place for Everything” comes from NaPoWriMo, or National Poetry Writing Month: 30 Poems in 30 Days, which was created by Maureen Thorson. NaPoWriMo. Today, they suggested writing a poem about something large. I also received inspiration from Sarah J. Donovan’s site, Verse-Love, Ethical ELA. Today’s prompt comes from Kim Johnson, Literacy Specialist from Georgia who suggested to write a poem about something quirky.
A Place for Everything A place for everything, Everything in its place. The world organized: Make the bed, Brush your teeth, Ash your face, Moisturize, moisturize Brush your hair, Look into the mirror, Tell yourself to smile. Start the day neatly – Completely in control. Greet the students Every morning at the same time, Repeat the same instructions: Good morning, let’s begin, Sharpen pencils, turn in homework, Tun and talk to your partner, Take out your writers’ notebook, 1,2,3, eyes on me. Look out into the sea of faces, Tell yourself to smile. End the school day neatly- Completely in control. Later, at the grocery store, Grab one of the shopping carts, The one with the boogety-woogety wheel. Race around the perimeter, Where all the healthy foods live. Get extra steps in - Walk around twice before shopping. Start at the produce section, All the bins stacked neatly, Arranged in a rainbow: Apples, onions, melons, Strawberries, blueberries, pears, Mushrooms, avocados, celery. Everything in its place Except for the lone cantaloupe. Someone sat the cantaloupe Among the squat watermelons. One beige ball among green striped strangers. I gently cradle the cantaloupe in my hands, Search through the aisle for his melon tribe. There they sit solemnly. I place him with his brethren, Back where he belongs, Completely in control. Back home, lights turned on Brightening the darkness Dinner made; dishes done. The news turned on and off again, Turn to my book – a good one, The one about gardening in France. See the flowers blooming In my mind’s eye: Tulips, asters, marigolds. Breath in their fragrance Take it all in and smile. Everything in its place Completely in control.