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Where Babies Come From

Many are from the Maldives...

Many are from the Maldives,
southwest of India, and must begin
collecting shells almost immediately.
The larger ones may prefer coconuts.
Survivors move from island to island
hopping over one another and never
looking back. After the typhoons
have had their pick, and the birds of prey
have finished with theirs, the remaining few
must build boats, and in this, of course,
they can have no experience, they build
their boats of palm leaves and vines.
Once the work is completed, they lie down,
thoroughly exhausted and confused,
and a huge wave washes them out to sea.
And that is the last they see of one another.
In their dreams Mama and Papa
are standing on the shore
for what seems like an eternity,
and it is almost always the wrong shore.

.  .  .  .  .  

Submitted February 25, 2002 by Kevin Fanning, who writes: I live in Illinois. I moved here a year ago from Boston. I don't have any friends here, or even know anyone that well at all, so I mostly spend my time emailing people in other parts of the world, and writing down any things that pop into my head when I wake up each morning. I write them down at whygodwhy.com.

“One of my all-time favorite poems it "Where Babies Come From" by James Tate. There are many reasons why I like it, but I'll just tell you a few. One is that it starts off funny and cute, but ends up really sad. All my favorite writing follows this pattern. Also, it sounds like he is telling about a dream he had, but usually listening to people talk about their dreams is so boring. He doesn't tell this story like you would relate a dream. Normally when people talk about their dreams they say "Last night I dreamed that I was dating my sister and I had 3 heads, isn't that wierd?" And you know what? It really isn't. It isn't that wierd, or even interesting. But James Tate is very good at telling stories that are dream-like, but that don't read like dreams. This is so important. Because dreams are so wonderful and scary to the dreamer, but also so boring to listen to if you're not the dreamer. Another thing, and probably the biggest, is that recently my sister and brother in law had a baby. I got to hold it in the hospital. I've never held a newborn baby before. And babies are so helpless and soft. And when I was holding this baby, I started thinking about what it would be like when it was older. I thought about how sad and difficult life can be, and how as we get older we have to learn about injustice and poverty, and how we all have to watch our loved ones die, and how sometimes we're just not sure what the point of life is, but we keep going anyway, because who knows? Maybe there's a reason! So I just instantly loved this little baby I was holding, but also felt very very sad for it. I started crying. (I cry pretty easily). Then I just whispered in his ear that I would try to help out anytime he was sad, and gave him back to his mother. And this poem expresses how I felt right then, perfectly. Two other poems that also do this are Galway Kinnell's The Book of Nightmares and William Wordsworth 's Intimations of Immortality .”

“One of my all-time favorite poems it "Where Babies Come From" by James Tate. There are many reasons why I like it, but I'll just tell you a few. One is that it starts off funny and cute, but ends up really sad. All my favorite writing follows this pattern. Also, it sounds like he is telling about a dream he had, but usually listening to people talk about their dreams is so boring. He doesn't tell this story like you would relate a dream. Normally when people talk about their dreams they say "Last night I dreamed that I was dating my sister and I had 3 heads, isn't that wierd?" And you know what? It really isn't. It isn't that wierd, or even interesting. But James Tate is very good at telling stories that are dream-like, but that don't read like dreams. This is so important. Because dreams are so wonderful and scary to the dreamer, but also so boring to listen to if you're not the dreamer. Another thing, and probably the biggest, is that recently my sister and brother in law had a baby. I got to hold it in the hospital. I've never held a newborn baby before. And babies are so helpless and soft. And when I was holding this baby, I started thinking about what it would be like when it was older. I thought about how sad and difficult life can be, and how as we get older we have to learn about injustice and poverty, and how we all have to watch our loved ones die, and how sometimes we're just not sure what the point of life is, but we keep going anyway, because who knows? Maybe there's a reason! So I just instantly loved this little baby I was holding, but also felt very very sad for it. I started crying. (I cry pretty easily). Then I just whispered in his ear that I would try to help out anytime he was sad, and gave him back to his mother. And this poem expresses how I felt right then, perfectly. Two other poems that also do this are Galway Kinnell's The Book of Nightmares and William Wordsworth 's Intimations of Immortality .”

Submitted February 25, 2002 by Kevin Fanning, who writes: I live in Illinois. I moved here a year ago from Boston. I don't have any friends here, or even know anyone that well at all, so I mostly spend my time emailing people in other parts of the world, and writing down any things that pop into my head when I wake up each morning. I write them down at whygodwhy.com.

“One of my all-time favorite poems it "Where Babies Come From" by James Tate. There are many reasons why I like it, but I'll just tell you a few. One is that it starts off funny and cute, but ends up really sad. All my favorite writing follows this pattern. Also, it sounds like he is telling about a dream he had, but usually listening to people talk about their dreams is so boring. He doesn't tell this story like you would relate a dream. Normally when people talk about their dreams they say "Last night I dreamed that I was dating my sister and I had 3 heads, isn't that wierd?" And you know what? It really isn't. It isn't that wierd, or even interesting. But James Tate is very good at telling stories that are dream-like, but that don't read like dreams. This is so important. Because dreams are so wonderful and scary to the dreamer, but also so boring to listen to if you're not the dreamer. Another thing, and probably the biggest, is that recently my sister and brother in law had a baby. I got to hold it in the hospital. I've never held a newborn baby before. And babies are so helpless and soft. And when I was holding this baby, I started thinking about what it would be like when it was older. I thought about how sad and difficult life can be, and how as we get older we have to learn about injustice and poverty, and how we all have to watch our loved ones die, and how sometimes we're just not sure what the point of life is, but we keep going anyway, because who knows? Maybe there's a reason! So I just instantly loved this little baby I was holding, but also felt very very sad for it. I started crying. (I cry pretty easily). Then I just whispered in his ear that I would try to help out anytime he was sad, and gave him back to his mother. And this poem expresses how I felt right then, perfectly. Two other poems that also do this are Galway Kinnell's The Book of Nightmares and William Wordsworth 's Intimations of Immortality .”


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