I’ve been scouring my books and the web, searching for just the right poem to share today. I’ve shared many of my favorites previously, and I didn’t have a lot of time to write this week. As usual, though, inspiration came through at the last minute from Mary Lee Hahn, this week’s hostess for Poetry Friday and today’s Naomi Shihab Nye celebration. She directed me to Colby Sharp’s The Creativity Project, where Nye encouraged writers to “Write a list of ten things you are NOT (not an astronaut, a perfectionist, a wool spinner, a butterfly, a name-caller). Then pick your favorite lines and develop, or embellish, them, adding metaphors, more description, whatever you like.”
Here is a draft of my response:
I am not someone who speaks
the language of birds.
But at dawn, when they sing a tune
from the distant past,
their chirps and whistles ripple
into the silence
of the sleeping house,
reaching into my dreams,
recognition stirs inside me
and their melody carries
me into the day.
Last weekend I went to an estate sale and bought this bookcase for $10. What a deal, right? I didn’t even think twice. It clearly needed a little TLC, and as soon as I got it home, I got to work. As I was sanding, I realized a bookcase was the perfect topic for this month’s ditty challenge from Elizabeth Steinglass over at Michelle Barnes’s blog. My new bookcase needs another coat of paint before it will be ready to follow these instructions, but I know it will carry them out beautifully.
Instructions for a Bookcase
Stand up straight. Keep your shelves long and strong; Don’t let them sag! Hold each book in a gentle hug, Protect covers from fading, Prevent dust from settling on pages, Preserve words, ideas, stories. Welcome every reader; Generously share your treasures.
This year, our school has a single teacher for elementary science. He coordinates with classroom teachers, and has his own room where instruction takes place. For the past week or so, he has been incubating chicken eggs. The incubating process wasn’t too interesting, but all that changed when the eggs began to hatch. Everyone in the building has been visiting the newly hatched chicks. Of course I wrote a poem about them.
Bundles of damp down Tumble into the world, Cheeping and chirping. Chicks rise, stumble On brand new legs, Spindly and pink. They wobble back And forth, Unfold tiny wings Then fall flat, Worn out with effort. They rest, gather strength, Then rise again, Pause, find their Footing. Transformed into Puffs of smoky down, They scurry forward, Ready to greet the world.
Last weekend, I kept pinching myself to make sure I was awake and not in a blissful poetry dream. I was indeed awake and sitting at a table with Georgia Heard, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Janet Wong, and several other amazing poets. Oh, did I mention this table was at Poet’s House in New York City? And that there was a stunning view of the Hudson River right outside the window? It’s all true, but I still have to keep pinching myself.
I can’t begin to share all the wisdom and advice that Rebecca, Georgia, and Janet shared, but here are a few pointers I found helpful and inspiring:
Let the image be your guide
Your memory is a poet-in-residence in your mind
Find wonder in everything you look at
Write about what takes your breath away
We drafted many poems. Most of mine aren’t ready to share, but this almost-haiku, inspired by the empty playground in Rockefeller Park, makes me happy.
on a rain-splashed day
puddles tromp through the playground
for their turn on the slide