Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Books, Nuts, and a Hammer

My memories of the sea are book scented
chants that sing of hammers
promising treats.

Weird? Of course, it’s weird—
I am a weird woman
sprouted out of the wild heart
of an even weirder child
who, on Fridays, fed a hammer
to her schoolbag.

But don’t you fret for me—I grew up
in a magical time and place,
where the thought of a metal detector
in school
would’ve brewed a riot of disbelief-
infused laughter.

So, I smuggled my favorite hammer to class
(well, perhaps ‘smuggled’ might not be the right thing
to call it—since no one ever said to me,
“Hey girl,
you aren’t allowed hammers in school, bus,
or in the Biblioteca Nacional!” for that matter)

My hammer waited almost patiently
in my schoolbag,
through math with señor Gustavo,
through natural sciences
with Sor María de la Piedad,
through social studies with a terrible teacher
whose name I can’t quite care to remember

(but know everyone called her Sor Mumm-Ra).

So, when school ended, on Fridays,
I would take two buses to the library,
where I would delight in books

(mythologies and dark fairy tales and garden
grimoires were my favorites)

After the bookish fun, my hammer and I
would go to El Malecón
(which isn’t just a pier
but a whole street glancing into the Caribbean Sea)
Between the street and the beach,
out of sandy soil, grew tropical almond trees.

I would sit on the ground,
not caring if my uniform got
My hammer would come out of the bag,
I would reach for the best almond,
hold it against a flat rock,
and hammer it until it split in half
to present its nutty treat
to my mouth.

My memories of the sea are book scented
chants that sing of hammers
promising treats.

  - originally, this was a prose piece, titled “A Hammer in My Schoolbag”.

- for Poets and Storytellers United--Weekly Scribblings #93: Kid Stuff (where we are asked to “write about something we really enjoyed in childhood.”    


  1. Oh, how I love the way your hammer leads to the evocation of your whole childhood world. And what a rich world! Ha ha, funny that there was no rule against carrying hammers – but I bet there soon would have been if you'd let anyone see. And oh wow, this is the first time I've ever seen the shell of an almond – how huge! – or even thought about whether they had shells.

  2. I'm so glad you revived this piece ... the smell of almonds evokes such imagery mwahahaha XXX

  3. It sounds like magic, the best sort of magic. Books, yummy treats, and your trusty tool by your side... bliss.

  4. How nice. Lovely images evoked with this one.

  5. I love the way you kept us wrapped in curiosity about the hammer while you unfolded some school memories. Like Rosemary, I was interested to see almond shells, and astounded at their size. Great write, Magaly!

    1. It's me back again after reading your comment on mine. You have to know Bloomington, IL is just 50 miles from my home town of Pontiac! My description must have sounded very familiar to you. How is it you came to live in Bloomington, Il for a time?

    2. So many fruits and nuts out there interestingly shaped.

  6. Very nice, moving and hilarious too, picturing you taking your hammer to school! Of course, then came the reason. I had to look up tropical almonds. One of the images is a hammer hitting one!

    1. Almonds are hard to crack. So, there will probably be some pictures with almonds and rocks too.

  7. Oh, this is every wonderful superlative I can dredge up from my feverish brain ... this story poem ~~ the reason. Cheers and Kudos and Brava!

  8. This is a fun read, Magaly, thank you. I am wondering if you were a little scared carrying that hammer to school? I would be. But then I wasn't scared when we shot a friend's pistol into the air out in the school yard. At night when we were having our class play, the friend had loaned the gun for the play, I was the butler and guilty, but before they found me out we took the gun outside and shot some bullets my friend had brought that night. We two were two thirds of our class, another girl stayed inside. It took all twelve, seventh through tenth grades, to make the play.
    Thank you also for the almond picture, I had no idea, I would have thought walnut-like shells.
    Yes, thank you for your concern about me, I will post Fridays.

  9. Yes i remember those almonds trees walking home from school. The boys did the pelting. But we used a large stone to bust open the nuts


    1. I used a large stone, too, when I didn't have my hammer.

  10. I heard that when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. ;)

  11. I'm glad the hammer had a good use. I have never seen an almond tree.

    1. They are very pretty trees, even the leaves are pretty and all shiny.

  12. How absolutely amazing. (I'm not sure I've ever seen an almond as it truly is!) And of all the things that we did as kids that kids today can't do at all. For as many advances we have some beautiful things are lost.

    1. You're so right. I wonder if we'll ever get some of it back.


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