Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Carrot in Her Toaster

I confess that rhyming verses are less compelling reading for me than lines allowed to stretch or contract, not subject to alignment with the lines above. I love the poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay, though, and from time to time find contemporary rhyming poetry that delights or moves me. Such is the case with the poetry of one Marion Sharville, who lives in England. Her sons set her up on a blog five years ago, when she was 83, "to try to keep me off the streets and out of trouble", she says. (One of her sons who left a comment signed himself as "Son No. 7")

She writes poems rhymed and unrhymed, as well as short stories, on her blog, A Carrot in the Toaster.

In The Veteran's Journey, she describes what it's like for soldiers when they're shipped back home, broken, damaged, unable to function. An excerpt:

His mates who fell, still live inside his head
as homeward bound to strangers, he now goes.
Responsibilities and cares make up his bed
back in a life that he no longer knows.

Here's another sample (non-rhyming) poem:


A clatter as the old box is
tipped out on to the kitchen table,
adding more clutter to the things
not yet cleared away.

Small hands reach for treasures.
Eyes large, tongue helping,
she concentrates on building a world.
Reality takes a back seat and life dances
between the butter dish and the sugar bowl.

The quietness is inlaid with
the child’s soft humming.
Contentment settles like a
carelessly thrown cashmere shawl.

~ ~Marion Sharville

In one of her short-short stories, Car Owner Preferred, a man searches for companionship through the classifieds, with surprising results.

Marion has a terrific imagination. She can get inspiration from the briefest observation, or reported local event. And she's not afraid to make her words sing. For example, at the end of January 2008, about 2000 tons of timber washed ashore at Worthing after the sinking of the Ice Prince cargo ship in the English Channel.  Marion sat down and wrote a poem about it, called "Worthing Wood",  to the tune of Teddy Bears' Picnic, a popular children's song.

The title of her blog intrigued me. Why in the world would anyone stick a carrot in their toaster? Marion explains:


I’ll put a carrot in the toaster,
a pot of face cream in my shoe.

Anything will do
as long as it is out of place;
a silent clue what I must do
to see me through
this ‘clean forgotten’ phase.

A handkerchief, tied in a knot,
once helped a lot.
A different issue, is a tissue.

A diary to rely on,
is the answer, if I choose it,
but then, I’d only lose it.

I will create a memory-mate.

Not a lot of people boast a
carrot in the toaster.

~ ~ Marion Sharville

I love her poems and little short stories. Marion is a keen observer of human behavior; her characters are familiar, their problems and dreams and ruminations instantly recognizable. I love her sense of humor. But she also has an uncanny knack, in the more serious poems, of getting to the heart of a thing, ignoring the window dressing, as it were, going right to the core.

Four of my favorite poems by Marion, here.

So today's toast is to Marion Sharville across the pond, may her stories and poems keep coming. They have inspired me to be more observant, to catch the little things, the unsaid words, the unexpressed passions, the secret pain of others, not just as subject matter for one's writing, but a reminder that we're all connected, because these things happen to all of us--the tragic, the ridiculous, the sometimes amazing, and the just plain downright confusing. Marion's poems and stories catch those threads, and weave them out for us to see. Thank you, Madam Sharville, for putting them into words.

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