The Door – a poem for the weekend


My daughter is a writer.

Yesterday, she informed me she was also a mathematician, but I think it was because she was coveting my mechanical pencils, and I said engineers and physicists in this house get all of the mechanical pencils they need. She countered that she was a mathematician. I conceded that mathematicians would also qualify for a cache of mechanical pencils. It’s true, she does have a knack for math, but her writing is natural, comes easy and is truly a gift. At the age of nine, she knows how to construct elegant sentences, create stories, and develop clever dialog. All day long, she sees potential stories and talks about story ideas and how they could develop. She loves vocabulary. She collects and catalogs descriptive words, and if you ever want to win her over, just make a homophone joke.

She has always played dollhouse, Polly Pockets, Legos and American Girls dramatically as though she were reading it in a book, narrating as she goes along. Her four year old play at the dollhouse was not “Hi” “Hi” “Wanna come to the birthday party?” “Sure.” She sounded something like this: “Shelly walked into the empty room with a look of disappointment in her eyes. She believed that she had missed the birthday party. She would never be able to forgive her friend for making her late. While choking back tears, she whispered a meek ‘Hello?’ to the empty room. And then she heard it – faint squeals and giggles coming through an open window. Shelly quickly headed to the backyard with hope in her heart.” You may think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not.


My mom and I used to play a game with each other when my daughter was 3 or 4, we would pick an obscure word (well, obscure for a preschooler), and then slip that word into our conversation to each other with my daughter overhearing. We would see how many times we had to say it for my daughter to start using the new word – a word like “glorious” or “putrid” or “fathom.” Usually we’d only have to say the chosen word twice, and within 24 hours, my daughter will have tried to work that word into appropriate sentences a dozen or so times. The girl LOVES words.

But, my girl isn’t always confident with risks. Writing and showing someone your work is a risk, especially if you’ve poured a lot into it. Heck, sometimes just getting the words onto paper is a risk. So while there are notebooks of of her work littered around the house, there isn’t a ton of finished product to show for her talents (yet).

She often writes poetry and songs. I suppose she likes them because they are quicker to write than a story, smaller, and you don’t have to be as consistent with tenses.

I read a poem last week that I liked a lot.

It reminded me of my girl, and encouraging her to take a step and be brave and use her imagination. It also reminded me of some of the poetry that she has written – creative, imaginative, and with a touch of wit.

The author of the poem, Miroslav Holub, is interesting to me because he was a scientist. I wonder if he had or had hoped for unlimited mechanical pencils too. I shared the poem with my daughter. She and I talked about it and thought about other ideas that we might find when we open the door.

When I looked outside at the blue sky and the clean white snow this morning it made me crack open a window to take a deep breath of crisp air and refresh for a second, and I thought this poem was worth sharing to send you into a weekend that hopefully includes a little exploration and door opening. If you are working on raising kids like Sarah and me or if you like to go outside or if you are looking towards new paths,  you might like this poem too.




The Door
By Miroslav Holub

Go and open the door.

Maybe outside there’s

A tree, or a wood,

A garden,

Or a magic city.

Go and open the door.

Maybe a dog’s rummaging,

Maybe you’ll see a face,

or an eye,

or the picture

of a picture.

Go and open the door,

If there’s a fog

It will clear.

Go and open the door.

Even if there’s only

The darkness ticking,

Even if there’s only

The hollow wind,

even if


is there,

go and open the door.

at least

there’ll be

a draught.

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  1. Great M story! Thanks for letting your kids know what makes them so special.

  2. You’ve inspired me to add this from today’s (Feb 8) New York Times obituary on the poet, Maxine Kumin:

    “Besides her daughter Judith, Ms. Kumin’s survivors include her husband; another daughter, Jane Kumin; a son, Daniel; and two grandchildren, one of whom inspired these lines, from “A Game of Monopoly in Chavannes”:

    His lower lip trembles, this luxury of a child

    who burst naked into our lives, like luck. …

    I will deed him the Reading Railroad, the Water Works,

    the Electric Company, my hotel on Park Place.

    All that I have is his, under separate cover,

    and we are the mortgaged nub of all that he has.

    Soon enough he will learn, buying long, selling short,

    his ultimate task is to stay to usher us out.”

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