Carrying on with our friendship and loss theme, here's a guest poem from Sally Canzoneri
(Poem #1086) The Floor and the Ceiling
Winter and summer, whatever the weather, The Floor and the Ceiling were happy together In a quaint little house on the outskirts of town With the Floor looking up and the Ceiling looking down. The Floor bought the Ceiling an ostrich-plumed hat, And they dined upon drippings of bacon fat, Diced artichoke hearts and cottage cheese And hundreds of other such delicacies. On a screen-in porch in early spring They would sit at the player piano and sing. When the Floor cried in French, "Ah, je vous adore!" The Ceiling replied, "You adorable Floor!" The years went by as the years they will, And each little thing was fine until One evening, enjoying their bacon fat, The Floor and the Ceiling had a terrible spat. The Ceiling, loftily looking down, Said, "You are the lowest Floor in this town!" The Floor, looking up with a frightening grin, Said, "Keep up your chatter, and you will cave in!" So they went off to bed: while the Floor settled down, The Ceiling packed up her gay wallflower gown; And tiptoeing out past the Chippendale chair And the gateleg table, down the stair, Took a coat from the hook and hat from the rack, And flew out the door -- farewell to the Floor! -- And flew out the door, and was seen no more, And flew out the door, and never came back! In a quaint little house on the outskirts of town, Now the shutters go bang, and the walls tumble down; And the roses in summer run wild through the room, But blooming for no one -- then why should they bloom? For what is a Floor now that brambles have grown Over window and woodwork and chimney of stone? For what is a Floor when a Floor stands alone? And what is a Ceiling when the Ceiling has flown?
I like this poem for a lot of reasons, including the mix of whimsy and seriousness. I loved the poem as an adolescent, and find that children in my classes also love it. There is a lovely way that Smith gets you hooked on what seems to be a whimsical story and then makes the point about the carelessly broken friendship with such simple eloquence in the last stanzas. The "flew out the door" stanza brings the poem to an emotional peak and captures that almost euphoric "I don't need you! You'll see!" feeling that people get in arguments. Then the quiet last stanzas show the cost of that anger. Sally Canzoneri Links: An excellent critical essay on Smith http://www.danagioia.net/essays/esmith.htm The current theme: [broken link] http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/collections/42.html