31 Days of Quotes: {day 4} When life gives you plums…

When you attend a liberal arts college, and especially when you major in English at a liberal arts college, there’s always the question that quickly follows: What will you do with that degree?

I’m proud to say that 10-ish years later, I’m still coming up with great answers to that question.

Two answers occurred to me today.

#1:  That 5-inch thick, 50 lb Norton’s Anthology of English Literature is the perfect thing to raise a kid’s mattress to a 30-degree angle thereby letting a stuffy nose drain properly at night.

#2:  William Carlos Williams’s poetry can entertain a preschooler at lunch for 12 seconds and provide a teachable moment on the beauty of words.

paper doll tales | plums

This is Just To Say

by William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

The poem is simple, perhaps overly so, in the way that modern art can elicit the “my two-year-old can do that” type of response, but I bless the simplicity of these words that spring to mind as Little Friend and I share a bowl of so sweet, so cold plums that are the last harvest of the summer season on a day in October that’s warm enough to throw open windows and give short sleeves one final airing.  I appreciate the extra-ordinary beauty of a note dashed with mock apology for enjoying a delicacy.  It’s a note I could find magneted to my fridge; a note that acknowledges the familial fact that our lives pinball off one another, and one family member’s action causes another member’s reaction.  No plums?  What’s for breakfast then?!

The first time I read the poem aloud to Little Friend, I catch a gleam in her eye.  She’s busily mangling a plum into pulpy submission while excavating a pit.

“Would you like me to read it again?” I ask, wondering if the poetry fairy has visited us with glad tidings of rhyme.


Well then.  Refer back to reason #1 why an English degree will pay dividends later in life.

paper doll tales | grabbing plums


  1. Big Friend said:

    Wow! So beautiful! The poem still gives me chills and you made it even more powerful and personal with the family life pinball metaphor.

    I wish I was there to share the plums with you both.

    Big Friend

    Ps volume 1 of Norton’s anthology of English lit (with a few exceptions) is only really useful for propping up a mattress. :)

    October 4, 2012

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