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On the Cover: Houses

jf02My father’s house was made of sky.
His bookcases stood twelve feet high.
The snowy owl my father tamed,
the stones he showed me, stars he named,
agate, quartz, the Milky Way—
“It’s good to know their names,” he’d say,
“so when I’m gone and you are grown,
in any world you’ll feel at home.”

My mother’s house was made of talk,
words that could rouse a flea to fight
or make a stone stand up and walk.
Words filled the kitchen day and night.
Grandpa knew all the Psalms by heart.
My mother’s sisters knew the art
of telling tales, and lies so new
all those who heard them called them true.

My house is quieter than theirs.
My promises are frail as foam.
I still forget to say my prayers.
Between the lines I plucked this poem.
Look up. To the discerning eye,
my house stands open to the sky.

–Nancy Willard

The four houses on the cover are made of fused glass. Two of them appear in Willard’s The Magic Cornfield (Harcourt). From the January/February 2002 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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