Tonight I met Pat Conroy and it was marvelous. Never before have I heard someone speak words as alive as his were. Beautiful, funny, painful, happy, real stories. If I could have the tiniest fraction of that sort of talent, I would ask for nothing else.
What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones. That’s the book. I read it either my junior or senior year of high school, though the reading level is much lower than that because at that point in my life I was feeling as if I had missed out on lots of children’s literature altogether (also one of the reasons that I took Children’s Literature this semester – I highly recommend it for anyone at OU). When I was a child I went straight from Bill Wallace to Mary Higgins Clark and never looked back. In the 6th grade I tested on a college reading level and I wasn’t reading any of the books on the teacher’s bookshelf. None of the books in the library looked interesting to me. The day I started 7th grade and got to visit the high school library for the first time was one of those days I will never forget.
Back to the subject at hand. I was buying children’s literature so that I could get caught up. At the time I was planning to be an elementary school teacher (if you want to know my major changes at OU, they go something like this: Elementary Education, Language Arts Education, and lastly, English-Writing) and you know, I needed to be prepared. So I picked this book up at the book fair. It is really, really good. I think children around the age of 12 should have this book or one like it as required reading. It’s about all sorts of family troubles that are just on the fringes of the story, because as a young girl, Sophie (the main character) doesn’t know all the details, but the point is that she does know that something is going on.
And then there is Murphy. The one I am posting this about. Murphy is a boy in Sophie’s class. Murphy isn’t the best looking kid, and Sophie knows she would get teased for hanging out with him…there’s more I could say, but I’ll just post the poem. Whether you were a Murphy or you loved one, I think you will understand.
from What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones
so downright ugly
that none of the girls
even think about him.
to even bother
making fun of.
very wrong with me,
because I want to kiss him.
I want to kiss him real bad,
and his ears are huge,
even though his hair’s a mess
and his lips are tight and scared.
those circles under his eyes
that make him look like
he’s never slept a second in his life.
seem like they’re just aching
to hold on to someone.
I wish I could let them hold on to me.
I’d walk up to him
and say, “Hey, Murph.
Would it be okay if I kissed you?”
because he’d think I was joking
and he’d turn away
to hide his face,
look at him with gentle misty movie eyes
and say, “Come on. I mean it.
I really want to.”
and all the gray
would fade out of his eyes
and this light would come into them
they were getting ready to smile and then,
before I had a chance to change my mind,
I’d kiss him.
and his arms would be shaking,
and suddenly I’d feel all this love,
all this need pouring into me
and it would feel great,
and I’d close my eyes to feel it better.
I can’t believe
I’m having this fantasy about Murphy,
when I’m so totally in love with Dylan!)