Nursery Rhymes, Baseball, Prosopagnosia

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You know how when you learn a word, such as Prosopagnosia (an inability to recognize faces), you start to recognize it in the world–repeatedly? Within a week, I read this word in a magazine then in a book of trivia then in a memoir. The hypochondriac part of me insists I have this disorder. Mine is a mild version. I can identify my own face (some of the afflicted cannot); I can recognize my lover’s, my mother’s, my neighbors’, and my students’, but I often am unable to distinguish between Kevin Bacon and Tom Cruise, between Ashley Judd and Angelina Jolie.

Regardless of my diagnosis, I marvel at the ubiquitousness of words, how they are always out there, operating outside of our consciousness until necessity and circumstance reel them into our regard, until we grasp out for them.

I think of how the rebellion in the streets this summer is more ubiquitous than my new word Prosopagnosia, than the crops flowering in planters throughout the city, than the reliable afternoon rain showers here. I wander the streets looking for parades and celebrations, but I find more strikes, marches, and blockades.

The faculty are everywhere; beyond the bustling intersection absurdly named for hero children (Niños Heroes), they stretch longer than the aqueduct. These educators fervently overflow the commercial centers, the town square, the highways. They threaten to flood the airport first chance they get.

Turn your head for a second, and another couple hundred instructors abandon their scholars for the streets, for the cause, for the promise of change. Meanwhile, our minors learn to exhaust entire weeks treading water in anticipation of their teachers’ potential return for a minute or two before these marooned students dive into the vast expanse of summer.

I think of all of the meanings of strike and wish I could be writing about a match strike igniting children’s minds. Instead, I think of baseball, the whiff of a swing and a miss. I think of the clock striking and the idling children.

I can’t help thinking of the second verse/stanza of “Mary’s Lamb.”

“Mary had a little lamb,”
–Sarah Josepha Hale
Mary had a little lamb,
Its fleece was white as snow;
And everywhere that Mary went
The lamb was sure to go.
It followed her to school one day,
Which was against the rule;
It made the children laugh and play
To see a lamb at school.
And so the teacher turned it out,
But still it lingered near,
And waited patiently about
Till Mary did appear.
Why does the lamb love Mary so?
The eager children cry;
Why, Mary loves the lamb, you know,
The teacher did reply.
  • Most of us grew up with nursery rhymes as a first introduction to language play and love of rhyme. What nursery rhyme is related to your characters, to your own development and understanding of a conflict?

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