Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "A Brief History of Fidgeting"

This poem came out of the November 19, 2019 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] curiosity. It is posted here as barter with [personal profile] janetmiles.

"A Brief History of Fidgeting"

50,000 years of handiwork --

50,000 years of
rubbing two sticks
to light fires, pounding
wheat seeds to make flour,
working hides into leather --

6,000 years of
shearing washing
carding spinning
weaving sewing --

2,000 years of
idle hands are
the devil's playground --

all driving evolution toward
big brains and clever fingers,
patience and restlessness
balancing just so over
the knapped edge of a knife.

Now that the need to move,
to make things, is set more surely
than dye in wool, suddenly
it's not wanted anymore.

50,000 years of
putting a digging stick
into a child's hands as
soon as it could stand,
setting them to thresh seed
or gather tufts of wool or
tie fishnets knot by knot --

and now it's just fidgeting.

Look at history, look at
the paintings of people
with their hands always full,
their fingers busy with pens,
knitting needles, garden shears --

we're not meant to be idle,
it's not natural, it feels as
wrong as not breathing.

People need to move,
need to make things.

To fidget is to be human.

These are the things that
every child used to learn,
the ways of making and
cleaning and working,
the crafts of humanity.

So don't slap them.
Your ancestors have
made them to work.

The twist of our DNA
comes out in the cotton
dropping from a spindle,
dyed in the wool as it's
caught in crochet hooks.

What they're taught now
is numbers and letters
and computer code,
abstracts that are
difficult to grasp --

and you wonder
why they fidget.

Turn of the blue light
and the phones that
buzz like so many bugs.

Go, sit in the window,
take up yarn and sticks,
fidget them into something
warm and soft to wear.

Take the children in hand
and show them how to knit.

Teach them spinning, weaving,
woodcarving, any kind of craft
that will fill their fingers and
inspire their minds.

50,000 years of history
can't be wrong.
Tags: crafts, cyberfunded creativity, family skills, fishbowl, history, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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