Teenagers Recite Poems

Reluctantly, my daughter drags herself to a required high school poetry recitation.

While I chat with parents I haven’t seen in ages, I see her laughing with a boy she’s known since third grade.

Adolescents and poetry — how fun! One boy gives a comedic performance of “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” beginning by asking the prompter, Where am I stopping now?

Another boy’s fingers tremble as he reads a particularly beautiful poem. A shy girl comes alive.

Afterwards, talking in the dark on the short drive home from the theater, my daughter tells me about each student, how they chose their two poems, and what their voice was like. My daughter’s second poem was Frost’s Two roads diverged in a narrow road, so familiar, such a beloved poem. Nervous for her first poem, Emily Dickinson, she gained her voice with the second, her eyes on the upper balcony, her voice clear, melodious, utterly her.

Tonight the bear
comes to the orchard and, balancing
on her hind legs, dances under the apple trees,
hanging onto their boughs,
dragging their branches down to earth.
From ‘The Bear” by Susan Mitchell
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