I have been thinking about the ways we teach young children how to interpret their sensory experiences. In doing so, we often teach them what to hate, what to fear, and, hopefully, what to remember with love. Here’s a case in point.
No prison can hold me; no hand or leg irons or steel locks can shackle me. No ropes or chains can keep me from my freedom.” Harry Houdini
We were there the day Harry Houdini
entangled himself in rusty old chains.
We wondered about the man we would see
sink into the cold enclosure he disdains.
We gathered with friends and naysayers, too,
murmured together, moved closer to know
more of the bind Harry put himself through,
yet afraid to imagine the trials below.
When he rose from the depths, free from dire straits,
we breathed his relief as if a brother,
then we turned to go home dragging the weights
we wore to the shore and told each other
if Harry Houdini can beat the odds,
if Harry Houdini knows a few tricks,
if Harry Houdini can challenge the gods,
there’s always a way to get out of a fix.
Nancy Harris McLelland taught creative writing, composition, and literature for over twenty years and Conducted writing workshops for the Western Folklife Center, Great Basin College , and the Great Basin Writing Project . An Elko County native with a background in ranching. McLelland has presented her "Poems from Tuscarora" Both at daytime and evening events at the Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko. Her essay, "Border Lands: Cowboy Poetry and the Literary Canon" is in the anthology Cowboy Poetry Matters .