I hoped, when I first began teaching creative writing to third graders through Writers in the Schools (WITS), that I would be able to share some knowledge, honor the influence of my own teachers, or at the very least, offer some encouragement and kindness as my students stared at their blank pages. I had no idea that none of that would come close to the gifts that my students give me when they pour themselves onto those pages, filling them up with their unique histories and hopes, fears and fearlessness.
Today I asked them to write about the things that they would keep inside a box of any dimension or material, hoping they would reveal some interesting memories or thoughts that would serve as a prompt for next week’s lesson. This is a poem, written just this morning by a little girl named Christine, who plumbs her own imagination with such amazing grace I can only feel grateful to witness it.
THE MAGIC BOX
I will put into the box
The magic of a unicorn’s horn, and
The sweet smell of lavender in the sweltering summer,
The roar of a fearsome fire-breathing dragon, and
The sight of a double rainbow.
I will put in the box
My most precious secrets, and
The pure white snow on a mountain in Taos,
The dry dust of a ranch in summer, and
The weight of heavy 2x4s, ready for building a tree house with your dad.
The treasures a book holds for you, and
The heat of molten lava running down a volcano,
The twinkling of the stars at night, and
The crisp smell of a pine tree at Christmastime.
I will put all of these things in my box.
My box will be made of starlight.
You must show courage, integrity, perseverance and respect
To open it.
I will guard this box until I am an old woman, and
Then I will find some other little girl
And I will give it to her to keep.
By Christine, age 9