Poetry Friday: Cheating on a Challenge

“Lily wanted to be a good place to land.”
Emily Winfield Martin

The first Friday of the month means my Sunday Night Swaggers critique group monthly challenge. This month, Molly Hogan challenged us to “Go to a book you love. Find a short line that strikes you. Make that line the title of your poem. Write a poem inspired by the line. Then, after you’ve finished, change the title completely.” (Molly found this prompt here.)

I liked this prompt immediately. The problem was which book to choose? There are so many books to love! Despite knowing the challenge several months in advance, I couldn’t decide on a book. And am I the only one who feels like teaching during a pandemic seriously compromises my ability to think straight after three o’clock? Good. Then you’ll understand when I confess that, even though this poem meets this challenge, it was written months ago. Sorry, Molly.

The line I chose is from The Imaginaries: Little Scraps of Larger Stories by Emily Winfield Martin.

The “scraps of larger stories” and paintings in this book are endlessly inspiring. They have a mystical and dream-like quality that makes me want to climb into them. (Read another poem inspired by this book here.)

Lily wanted to be a good place to land.

Hidden Riches

If a spotted yellow butterfly

lands in the palm of your hand
and whispers, follow me…

don’t be shy, don’t hesitate
let the breeze carry you

into a sun-splashed meadow

where caterpillars nibble,
beetles skim, and dragonflies hover

over clusters of clover,
milkweed, and thistle

Follow her through ripples of sedge
and ticklegrass

Keep your eyes and ears and heart
open to the mysteries hidden there:

a map to your true you.

© Catherine Flynn, 2020

I’ve been reading Kate DiCamillo’s Louisiana’s Way Home with a student over the past few weeks, and I thought about using a line from Kate’s wise writing for this challenge. In the end, I settled on borrowing the title of my poem from this line: “I guess you can never say what riches people contain.”

Please visit my fellow swaggers to see how they responded to this challenge.

Heidi Mordhorst @ My Juicy Little Universe
Linda Mitchell @ A Word Edgewise
Margaret Simon @ Reflections on the Teche
Molly Hogan @ Nix the Comfort Zone

Then head over A Year of Reading for the Poetry Friday Roundup. Be sure to wish our hostess extraordinaire, Mary Lee Hahn, a very happy birthday while you’re there!

6 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Cheating on a Challenge

  1. I love the wistfulness of following a butterfly. When I walk the track every afternoon with my student, we often see butterflies and wonder about them. Your poem captures that special moment for me. In our household, we say that our pets (especially the rescued cats) have found a soft place to land. Your poem is a soft place to land.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not teaching and am still scattered many days, Catherine. I admire you & all teachers so, so much. This shows how much nature can mean to everyone, for us to “don’t be shy, don’t hesitate
    let the breeze carry you”. It has been a blessing for me, so much to love even here in winter! Thanks also for sharing the book, new to me & it looks wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Cheat away, Catherine. When you pour your whole self out every day all day long through a screen, it’s hard to make much with what’s left! (She said, as she went to spend the rest of her Sunday writing lesson plans and creating innovative (fingers crossed) ways to deliver content and provide meaningful practice for students. Sigh. And do laundry. And vacuum. And hopefully take a long walk later.)

    Liked by 1 person

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