She turns them over in her slow hands,
as did the sea sending them to her:
broken bits from the mazarine maze,
they are the calmest things on this sand.
The unbroken children splash and shout,
rough as surf, gay as their nesting towels.
But she plays soberly with the sea's small change
and hums back to it its slow vowels.
*When the poem was written, the designation
Down syndrome was not common terminology.
I first studied this poem in my 10th grade Honors English class over 20 years
ago. It made an impression even then, and I thought of it Sunday at my
nephew's birthday party. The cackling, healthy, developmentally on-track
children were all playing and running around. Kiera was quite self-entertained
exploring the house and the yard. She would occasionally take notice of the
other children, but generally kept to her own plan. As the children broke the
pinata and scurried for the candy and toys, Kiera was quite content handling
pebbles in the backyard landscaping. I had to smile to myself at the full circle
nature of my life. Who knew that the poem I learned in 10th grade would hold
such a personal application for me so far down the road? I am so glad that I
was paying attention.