Sunday, October 18, 2009

Until We Turned To Dust...4th Graders' Takes on Origins

In 2003, at Columbus Elementary School in Chicago's Ukrainian Village neighborhood, I worked with 4th graders once a week. One week, we wrote poems about rewinding the universe and finding the origins of things around us. What was a baby before it was a baby? An egg. What was an egg before it was an egg? Dust. What was dust before it was dust? An idea. and so on...there were some really wild spiraling ideas in their poems...


The car turns into wood and wood turns into a tree and a tree

turns into a root and the root turns into water and the water

turns into a seed and a seed, how can all things come from a


The door knob turns into iron and the iron turns into a

railroad track being torn down or maybe being torn


The milk turns into a cow and the cow turns into a cattle

and the cattle turns into a lost cloud.

A letter turns into a memory and a memory turns into a

big Glob of Nothing.

Gianna S.

And Where was I?

The world turned into an egg again and then

into a rock. I was in the rock.

The board would turn into a rock and I

was in a volcano.

The clock would turn into a stick again and I

was a rock.

Chicago was a small fort on land and I was

on a mountain.

The White House would turn into sand and

I was in a store.

The sky would turn into water and I was

a tadpole.

The land would turn into sand and I was

in a tree.

The boat would turn into sticks and I am inside a


The light would turn into dark and I was in the


The ocean would turn into land and I was in

a pond.

Tomasz B.

God's Breath

The house turns into bricks.

The bricks turn into dust.

The dust turns into air.

The air turns into God’s breath.

God’s breath turns into us.

Becky N.

The Origin of Humans

The humans turn into monsters.

The monsters turn back into big piles of goo.

The big piles of goo turns back into a green sun.

The green sun turns back into Venus.

Venus turns back into the Earth.

The Earth turns into a bird.

The bird turns into an egg.

The egg turns back into a human.

Jonathan F.

The Words

The seas turn into bees

The bees turn to E’s

The E’s turn to nothing

Nothing turns to air

Air turns to Jesus

Jesus turns to God

God turns to Christ

Christ turns to spirits

Spirits turn to hope

and hope turns to love

Love turns to wife

Wife turns to husband

Husband turns to dust.

Alexandra P.


Your words turn out to be air

The great lakes become ponds

My heart turns into sadness

A person becomes death

The devil becomes an angel

The teacher becomes a student

The world becomes a map

The picture becomes a country

Power becomes a spirit

Love turns into sadness

Earth turns into a singing bird

The teapot turns to water

A family becomes love

Ice becomes a book

The tree becomes a desk

The gold turns into silver

Khrystyna K.

Rewinding the World

My pencil becomes a wooden stick.

All humans become clouds.

The water becomes the sea.

One hour goes back to one second.

The world becomes a huge forest.

All chalk becomes dust.. This is what

would happen if we rewind the world.

Xavier M.

The class will turn into glass.

The city will turn into sand.

A pupil will turn into your eye.

The train will turn into rain.

Your hand will turn into your skin.

Alyssa R.

The air turned into solid gold

The wind turned into a whistling

Pole. My hair turned into

slimy stones. Five socks

made of gold break my bones.

A bird walks over the sea

10 fish turned into flees

A hippo couldn’t have broken

my knees oh please oh please

don’t change back, oh please.

Jasmine H.

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