I’m the one who leaps

On Ethical ELA today, Margaret Simon shared the work of fellow Louisiana native and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Jericho Brown. For the Open Write challenge, Margaret encouraged writers to use an echo line, anaphora, in composing poetry, something Brown does so magnificently. You can read an excerpt of his work and many other moving poems on being “a marcher or a leaper” here.

I lifted a line of Brown’s from The Tradition: “I’m the one who leaps.” My poem is based on a long-ago story told by someone who mattered to me, so much …

I’m the One Who Leaps

I’m the one who leaps
not from here to there
but within.

I’m the one who leaps
not like the farm boy standing rooted
to the old front porch
listening to hounds on the hunt.
Baying, fever pitch, nearing, nearing
when in the clearing
bursts the fawn from the brush.
White spots still visible
here and there
on the body running, running
right toward the farm boy standing rooted
to the old front porch.

No time to think
No turning back
Hounds closing in
-the fawn cries, that final sound
a creature makes when it knows
it’s reached the end.

The boy stands rooted.
No time to think
he just does it
he just opens his arms.

No time to think
The fawn just sees,
sees and leaps …

The farm boy
who caught the fawn
on the old front porch
became a preacher
standing rooted
in the Word of God.

Be the one who leaps,
he told us children,
into the Father’s open arms.
You cannot save yourselves.

I sat rooted to the pew
hearing the hounds on the hunt,
seeing the fawn
and those open arms.

I’m the one who leaps
not from here to there
but within.

Photo: Running fawn. Cropped. USFWS Midwest Region. CC BY

12 thoughts on “I’m the one who leaps

  1. Fran: This is a stunning and beautiful story and poem. Wow… I will be thinking on this for a long time. Thank you for sharing.

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  2. This is gorgeous, Fran. The story written as a poem with the powerful use of anaphora …well, as Laura said, it blows the reader away. You created the moment so beautifully that the images and the story will remain with me. Thank you.

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  3. I really had chills reading this. And I wonder, at different times in our lives, if we are the leapers and other times the catchers, the ones who save each other?

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  4. This is a beautiful poem and it was such a pleasure to read. What what called out the most to me was that it was inspired by a person who mattered to you. Knowing that made the words, this poem, so much more special. Thank you for sharing it, Fran.

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    • It’s a true story, Marina – it either happened to my childhood pastor (who grew up on a farm) or was told to him by another farmer – it just came back to me so clearly with that line “I’m the one who leaps.” Thank you – I so appreciate your words.

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  5. Even with your beautiful imagery, I didn’t see where it was going until BAM, we were there, forcing me to go back and reread and enjoy the piece all over again with a new lens. I will now contemplate the words “I’m the one who leaps within”. They resonate with me at the moment, as my thoughts and feelings outnumber the words I am able to bring to paper.

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    • It’s a true story, Chris. I just can’t remember exactly if it happened to my childhood pastor when he was a young, or if it happened to another farmer who told it to him .., but it happened, the fawn leaped to the young farmer for safety. It is an image and metaphor I will carry with me as long as I live.

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