Adult Poetry Poetry Friday

[Poetry Friday] Questions and Answers

poetry friday

Fats here.

Today’s poem is taken from Knopf Poetry, which was e-mailed to me during Knopf’s “Poem-a-Day” celebration for National Poetry Month. It features the work of Nancy Willard, whose picture book “A Visit to William Blake’s Inn” received the Newbery Medal in 1982.


Nancy Willard’s poem reminds us that the child’s view is essentially poetic, while the poet’s view retains something of the child’s curiosity and hope.

Poetry Friday round-up is hosted this week by Kiesha at Whispers from the Ridge.


Questions My Son Asked Me, Answers I Never Gave Him

1. Do gorillas have birthdays?
Yes. Like the rainbow, they happen.
Like the air, they are not observed.

2. Do butterflies make a noise?
The wire in the butterfly’s tongue
hums gold.
Some men hear butterflies
even in winter.

3. Are they part of our family?
They forgot us, who forgot how to

4. Who tied my navel? Did God tie it?
God made the thread: O man, live

Man made the knot: enough is

5. If I drop my tooth in the telephone
will it go through the wires and bite
           someone’s ear?
I have seen earlobes pierced by a
           tooth of steel.

It loves what lasts.
It does not love flesh.
It leaves a ring of gold in the wound.

6. If I stand on my head
will the sleep in my eye roll up into
           my head?
Does the dream know its own

Can bread go back to the field of its

7. Can I eat a star?
Yes, with the mouth of time
that enjoys everything.

8. Could we Xerox the moon?
This is the first commandment:

I am the moon, thy moon.
Thou shalt have no other moons
           before thee.

9. Who invented water?
The hands of the air, that wanted to
           wash each other.

10. What happens at the end of
I see three men running toward a

At the edge of the tall grass, they
            turn into light.

11. Do the years ever run out?
God said, I will break time’s heart.
Time ran down like an old

It lay flat as a carpet.
At rest on its threads, I am learning
           to fly.

10 comments on “[Poetry Friday] Questions and Answers

  1. Irene Latham

    This poem is brilliant! I am completely in love with it. Thank you for sharing it today! xo

    Liked by 1 person

  2. lindabaie

    Wow, wonderful, Fats. I especially love “The hands of the air, that wanted to / wash each other.” I know Nancy Willard wrote other things besides this book, will look for more!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh my goodness, those questions, and those answers! I absolutely believe that working with children helps keep my spirit young and full of wonder and curiosity!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love this poem and will need to explore this book. As a Kindergarten teacher, my students often ask, “What happens at the end of numbers?” They are obsessed with the concept of infinity and the term googleplex!


  5. I love all these questions and the answers.


  6. What a neat poem! Thanks for sharing the book, too!


  7. I loved the gentle and loving wisdom in the answers – just beautiful.


  8. maryleehahn

    Stunning. I need to be a better questioner, and, clearly, a better answerer!


  9. That book’s subtitle! 😍

    Lovely poem as always. I especially loved the answers to the questions about the gorilla’s birthday and who invented water.


  10. Thanks for sharing “Questions My Son Asked Me, Answers I Never Gave Him,” it’s wonderful, and I’m reading the book presently! The art is a delight too!


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