Slice of Life: Things to Do If You’re a Cabin

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Last year, a friend gave me a bracelet engraved with these words:

“You only fail if you stop writing”

Although I haven’t been posting too much recently, I have been writing drafts and snippets of poems for Laura Shovan’s Found Word Poetry project. These words, from “34 Books by Women of Color to Read This Year,” were last Thursday’s  prompt: unicorn, cabin, glut, cousin, fever, sing, kitchen, flee, perch, & sour. Refuge was the bonus word.

When I first read these words, I thought how easy it would be to write a poem using them. After all, my in-laws had a cabin on a lake in Maine where we spent many happy summers when my children were young. I was confident the poem would write itself.

Loons on the lake.
Loons on the lake.

Wrong.

Sometimes it seems that if I have too many ideas, it’s hard to wrangle them into some sort of shape. When this happens, I usually set the piece aside, move on to other ideas, and let the tangled mess percolate for a few days. Sometimes the idea is ready, but not always. Other times, I have to find the right form for my words. That’s what happened with this poem. After reading Elaine Magliaro’s gorgeous new book, Things to Do (Chronicle Books, 2017), I knew how to write this poem.

Things to do if you’re a cabin:

Perch on the edge of a fish-filled lake.
Wrap yourself in weathered red siding
and dream of summer,
when a glut of cousins
flee the heat and seek refuge
in the shade of soaring pines.

Remember the
mouth-watering aromas
floating out of the kitchen
as Grandma bakes her famous
sour cream peach pie.
Strain to hear whispered stories
of knights and unicorns at bedtime,
then listen to loons sing
their haunting lullaby.

© Catherine Flynn, 2017

A glut of cousins, not quite ready for their bedtime story.
A glut of cousins, not quite ready for their bedtime story.

Thank you, Laura, for once again being so generous with your time and talents.  Thank you also to StaceyBetsyBeth, KathleenDeb, MelanieLisa and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories each Tuesday. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

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8 thoughts on “Slice of Life: Things to Do If You’re a Cabin

  1. Just saw this on our FB group-wonderful, Catherine. This time I like your added picture & the background, too. And yes, Elaine’s book is beautiful! Happy slicing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah, yes. This poem settled in to a just right form. I love the stories and the loons and really everything about this poem. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love your poem, Catherine! I am so happy to know that my book helped inspire your writing. I got my idea for “things to do” poems from another children’s poet–Bobbi Katz. I thinks it’s wonderful that we can borrow ideas from each other and put our own mark on them.

    Liked by 1 person

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