Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

At Poets United's Thursday Think Tank, Ella has set us the challenge to write about a book that impacted us as a child. For me, it was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which I read at thirteen. I strongly identified with Francie. She was living in poverty, her father was a drinker, her situation embarrassed her, and she was full of hopes and dreams of escape into a better life. I remember often the passage where she sits on the fire escape, watching the older girls, in their rooms across the street, preparing for going out with their young men, and the beautiful arch their arms made over their heads, as they washed under their arms.

Tender and beautiful,
arms arched overhead 
like swans' wings,
cloaked in mystery,
those older girls prepare
to step out
into the world of love.
Francie sits, crouched small
and watching,
on the fire escape,
in the hot summer night,
behind her the sparse rooms 
of poverty and disappointment,
but in her heart
dreams rich with the promise of
better tomorrows.


  1. Well, the better tomorrow.. for you, was quite a long time in coming Sherry but thankfully, it did come.
    Lovely poem.
    The first full book I ever remember reading was LM Alcott's Little Women. Read it several times and wanted to be just like Jo :)

  2. you fashioned a beautiful bouquet
    as a companion for a great book.
    hope is so vital to humans.

  3. I never read that book, Sherry; but I can really picture that scene and how I bet it appealed to lot of young girls who read it in the same way that it appealed to you.

  4. If we didn't dream where would we be? I've never read this book, but it definitely sounds like something I would like.
    I really liked A Thousand Splendid Suns too! I heard it was being made into a movie.

  5. I haven't read that book, Sherry, but now I want to. I can really identify with Francie. Somehow, I feel she gets what she hopes for.

    Your poem is beautiful; it conveys the essence in a gist.

    Thank you! :)

  6. Oh, Sherry, "arms arched like swans' wings" is a gorgeous turn of phrase. That's exactly as she saw them, as rare birds whom she would never be able to match. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was also one of the first books I read that was not assigned by a teacher, and I love it all the more after reading this. Now to find a copy at the library! Love, Amy

  7. This poem is a real complement to the book, Sherry.
    I, also, read it at about the same age. Living in rural Ontario, one of 8 children and scarce budget. Books like this one transported me to other places and people's circumstances. So glad you focused on this book with your poem here.

  8. Sherry,

    No matter which books we read in our early years, they afforded us lots of opportunities to dream:)
    They were books soaked in innocence, of the time.


    My Words and Thoughts header photo, is from Spain and part of my recent holiday experience:)

  9. Sounds like a book that would really hit me, if I get a chance I will read it. As to your poem it is very beautiful and resonates with the power of hope. I also like the opening phrase, excellent!

  10. Sherry
    that was a beautiful story, poignant and so well written. Just like your poem, poignant and lovely. :-)

  11. I've never read it, either, though I've seen it on shelves a million times.

  12. Wow Sherry, I so want to read this~
    I have seen this book, had it in my hands, yet didn't read it~ I think I do need to open this treasure~
    Your poem is beautiful...thank you for sharing this gem :D

  13. We always need hope and the ability to dream. I'm fairly certain that is why so many of us read at all. Thanks for dropping in,


  14. Lovely,'ve so beautifully captured the tenderness and scope of this wonderful book with your insight and carefully-chosen words...:)


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