This is the poem that I would read myself when I was twelve and thought I was “getting old.” Back when I painted, I illustrated it as a young adult poetry book (yet unpublished, of course). I later found out that back in the 70s, Barbara Cooney had illustrated it as a kids book, which seems confusing … little kids don’t need to be told to be “new”. Adults do … I do, anyway. Anyway, the poem always makes me feel like I can do anything I want.
I Am Cherry Alive
“I am cherry alive!”the little girl sang. Each morning I am something new:
I am apple, I am plum, I am just as excited
As the boys who made the Hallowe’en bang:
I am tree, I am cat, I am blossom too:
When I like, if I like, I can be something new,
Someone very old, a witch in a zoo:
I can be someone else whenever I think who,
And I want to be everything sometimes too:
And the peach has a pit and I know that too,
And I put it along with everything
To make the grown-ups laugh whenever I sing:
And I sing: It is true; It is untrue;
I know, I know, the true is untrue,
The peach has a pit, the pit has a peach:
And both may be wrong when I sing my song,
But I don’t tell the grown-ups: because it is sad,
And I want them to laugh just like I do
Because they grew up and forgot what they knew
And they are sure I will forget someday too.
They are wrong. They are wrong. When I sang my song, I knew, I knew!
I am red, I am gold, I am green, I am blue,
I will always be me, I will always be new!”