Animals Eat Sunlight
“Animals eat sunlight,” I tell my students.
They don’t believe me. I explain how light
is caught by the green nets of leaves
and eaten by cows that become fast food
hamburgers and how we eat leaves in salads—
bowls of sunlight adorned with ranch dressing
and croutons. “Sunlight is energy,” I say.
I don’t talk about the way the sun
has been worshipped for thousands of years
as a mighty golden god or the hope after winter.
I don’t tell them how my heart lifts
with each sunrise. How it astonishes me
that day is somehow here again.
I don’t speak of my fierce love for the star
first graders draw in the upper corners
of their pictures with yellow crayons,
that circle blessing the house with its chimney
and family, its row of red flowers
like smaller suns. At recess, I walk outside.
I do not look directly at the sun, deferential,
but I feel it touching my skin. I feel
like a tree, stretching my branches,
my green nets, my everything towards light.
—Kate Coombs, 2012
all rights reserved
For more poems and links, visit the Poetry Friday post at My Juicy Little Universe. Happy Solstice, Happy Holidays, Happy Season of Candlelight and Starlight!
I love the 'story' of your poem, Kate, & "first graders draw in the upper corners/of their pictures with yellow crayons," Exactly! So much to ponder on this day. Happy Solstice!
So beautiful, Kate! I love the idea of eating sunlight and share the astonishment that day comes again. What a warm and glorious poem on this gray day. :)
Thank you, Kate--you'll see from my sun-puppet poem that like you, I feel as if I'm made of "green nets of leaves," my favorite image here.
Your detailed, lifting poem makes me curious--are you teaching in a classroom this year, or are you just that skilled an observer and writer?
Thanks very much, Linda! I was going to pick a corner, but realized I needed to give both equal time. :)
Renee, thank you. Isn't it wonderful that the sun comes up every single time?
Heidi, I'm working as a curriculum developer now, but I taught for 10 years, 5 of them in K-3 classrooms. (I also spent 4 years as a teacher trainer.) I have a lot of funny, happy memories of my teaching days and how little kids are! Anyway, I didn't get around to reading some of the other poems till today... I blame a nasty cold. Your lines about sun joy do express the same gladness I tried to convey in mine. It's one of the reasons I like Mary Oliver's poems so much--that praise and joy of nature that can be Christian or not, but should be universal to everyone living on this planet. I always think about how we're at just the right distance from the sun to sustain life and not destroy it, too.
I loved your poem, Kate! especially the line about loving the little stars that your students make. So inspirational!
My wishes for a light and bright Holiday Season!
I love the tension in your poem -- what we tell our school children, and what we keep in our hearts.
Lovely, Kate--especially "light
is caught by the green nets of leaves"
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