Uncle Bobby says I hatched from an
egg with polka dots.
He says my brother hatched from one with
pink and purple spots.
He says our mother sat on us
for forty-seven weeks
before we pecked ourselves
out of our shells
with pointy yellow beaks.
Uncle Bobby says the webs
between our toes dissolved
and then our stubby wings fell out
before our spindly arms evolved.
I think I don’t believe him.
But (just between you and me)?
There’s something weird perched somewhere
up there in our family tree.
About this poem: When my boys were about three and four, the oldest asked if he'd come from an egg. I said yes, and continued with what I thought was a brilliantly simple yet accurate response. My listeners glazed over, then dismissed it as nonsense. So the next time he asked, I said, yes, they'd hatched from eggs alright—Malcolm's had a purple shell and Griffin’s was green. That was much more satisfying for all parties. There is a time and a place for lying, and it is in the home when you have small children. (That of course is a lie!)
Writing this poem, I thought about how everyone feels like their family is a little bit (or a lot bit) strange and crazy. Uncle Bobby (who in real life is a family friend and bears no resemblance whatsoever to the adult in this picture) became the teller of the tall (or not so tall???) tale.
As you're dashing for the rainbow's end
to claim that pot o' gold,
if the world holds up a STOP sign
will you do as you are told?
Well some folks would. And they're the ones
whom no one'd ever scold.
They'd stop and wait for a sign to GO
cuz they're doin' as they're told.
They'd never find the rainbow's end,
just stand until they're old
and watch their dreams evaporate,
doin' as they're told.
So when a STOP sign looms ahead,
sure, do as you are told:
stop. Look both ways. Then GO!
Go find that pot o' gold.
ABOUT THIS POEM: I was out running one morning and turned a corner to see this amazing rainbow. It ended right there in the field across the street, just beyond two signs telling me to STOP! I thought about how boring and primitive the world would be if everyone chasing a rainbow stopped when they were told to. Of course, it's always a good idea to stop at a stop sign, but it's important to never, ever forget to start going again!
Ms. Betsy's oldest surviving poem is one she wrote in the third grade. "Down in the Sewer" didn't make her popular, but it made a small group of loyal fans very cheerful. Some of the latest poems she's written, "Six Poems of the Galapagos," will appear in Cricket Magazine in the summer of 2020. She hopes they'll reach a wider audience than her first poem did, and make more people cheerful...and possibly provoke some thoughts, as well.