Dawn’s Sweet Tendernesses

11454297503_e27946e4ff_h.jpgIn February I participated (off and on) in Laura Shovan’s February Daily Poem Project. The group opted to continue writing together on a monthly basis. This month the challenge was to riff off Rainer Maria Rilke by writing a poem using the following 10 found words harvested from his poem, “Early Spring” : varnished, softness, meadows, rivulets, tendernesses, earth, subtle, risings, expression, and trees. Here’s my effort, including 7 out of the 10 words:

Dawn’s Sweet Tenderness

Dawn offers sweet tendernesses
as earth softly stirs
with subtle shifts of sound
from jaunty peepers’ chorus
to liquid silver birdsong
while the rising sun dips
gauzy clouds in sherbet hues
and rivulets of dew coalesce,
thinly streaming down grassy stems
into drowsy meadows
like yesterday’s tears

Molly Hogan (c) 2017

Dandelion

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Photo credit to Cate Kastriner

It all started when I heard on NPR that Crayola was retiring Dandelion as one of its crayon colors. Retiring a color struck me as an odd concept, but retiring Dandelion? Cheerful, plucky Dandelion, harbinger of spring, granter of wishes, sent out to pasture? It just didn’t seem right. Then, I read that Amy Ludwig VanDerwater was using crayon colors as inspiration for her poetry writing in April (here). What a great idea! So, I randomly pulled a crayon from my own crayon box, thinking it might inspire me in some way– And yes, you guessed it, I pulled Dandelion.

All of this got me thinking about dandelions which led me to pull out this treasured picture of my son. It melts my heart every time I look at it. Those sweet cheeks, the why-didn’t-his-mother-ever-cut-his-hair hair, the baby neck creases… and his one little hand carefully clasping a dandelion while the other hand rests open, filled with sunlight. All framed by a field full of brilliant yellow dandelions. Melts. My. Heart.

 

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Thinking of him, the little him I miss so, and of my own memories of long ago dandelion-wishing days, mixed with thoughts about retiring, aging, and change to inspire this poem.

Dandelion

Your exuberant hue spangles the meadow
evokes the sweet, pressing heat
of lazy, fragrant afternoons
and the buzzing of pollen-dizzy bees
bobbing from blossom to blossom
in their mysterious, intricate dance

Your name conjures
the phantom touch of a small hand
long ago (or was it yesterday?)
presenting a wilting cluster
of starburst blossoms
with bent and broken milky stalks
love in a bouquet

Your toothy flowers burst with memories
of spring promises, childhood joy,
and gossamer wishes
cast on summer breezes

Perhaps we can trace our lost innocence
to the day we first scorned you
as a weed

Molly Hogan (c) 2017

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The Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted this week by Doraine Bennett at her blog Dori Reads. Click on the link to enjoy some poems!

Lines…a Photo Challenge

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About two weeks ago, Kim Douillard of the blog, Thinking Through Your Lens, posted a challenge to notice and photograph the lines in our daily lives. Once I had it in mind, I saw lines everywhere! I also remembered this photo, one I had taken earlier in the month. It shows the back garden fence reflected on the lingering snow. I love the way the lines play against the contours of the snow.DSCN9361.jpg

One recent Sunday morning, while visiting our children, I opted for a very chilly early morning walk. I had Kim’s challenge in mind, and I was immediately intrigued by the jigsaw puzzle lines of the ice on the river. Looking down from the bridge into town, I enjoyed the linear reflections of the guardrail on the ice below. Notice, too, the lines that the tree shadows make across the floating ice. If it hadn’t been so cold, I could have stayed and watched the interplay of water, ice and shadows for quite some time. It was, however, one of those days where you have to keep moving or get inside, so I moved along.

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Walking down to the river, I noticed the water had refrozen overnight into thin layers along the banks of the river. I stepped carefully over ice and crunchy patches of snow, maneuvering down to the water’s edge. When I got closer, I saw these amazing razor-sharp lines etched into the ice.  I couldn’t believe my eyes–What incredible geometric shapes!

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In the nearby park, I discovered more lines. The veins and edges of this leaf are lovely on their own.  But with the cumulative alchemy of changing temperature, absorbing warmth, melting, etc., this leaf has created its own silhouette. Lines within lines within lines.

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Back at home this past weekend, Saturday’s snowfall, while not particularly welcome, was quite beautiful. The raised ridges on the metal barn roof peeked through the cracked lines in the snow and caught my eye. Not too long after I took this photo, the snow sheets avalanched from the roof  with a resounding Whoosh!

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And, finally, there are the lines that lead toward home–Perhaps my favorite of all.

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Thanks, Kim, for another great challenge! I appreciate how you help me see my world in new ways!

Hooray for April, Poetry and …Snowstorms?

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Each year we celebrate the arrival of spring with a brilliant blue river of flowers cascading down the hill. This year we’re still waiting.  Today’s storm feels like yet one more pause in the move toward spring. Truly beautiful…but…Sigh… I imagine the Scilla bulbs are swelling beneath the snow, yearning to burst through the earth in a riot of color.

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April 1, 2017

Scilla Waits for Spring

Winter white returns
Our hillside Scilla river
will slumber longer

Tucked beneath the snow
Brilliant blossoms poised to burst
Scilla waits for spring

Molly Hogan (c) 2017

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April 17, 2016

 

The Secret Delight of Poetry

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This week in anticipation of National Poetry Month the Washington Post published Garrison Keillor’s piece, “The Secret Delight of Poetry.” What a treat! His dry wit and wry sense of humor are evident in full force and it was an utter delight to read from start to finish. Here’s one small excerpt:

“This is the power of poetry. Poets get the girl.

Football heroes get concussions or need hip replacements. My classmates who played football are walking with canes and moaning when they sit down, and they find it hard to figure out the 10 percent tip at lunch. We poets go sashaying along, perpetually 17, lost in wonder at the ordinary, astonished by streetlights, in awe at lawn ornaments, bedazzled by baristas releasing steam into milk for the lattes.”

The man can write, can’t he? I’ve read that final phrase over and over–“bedazzled by baristas releasing steam…”  Ahhh…. There is also a more serious vein to his piece, though, hidden among the hyperbole.

“This is what you learn during Poetry Month. You may lose the vote, fall into debt, suffer illness and remorse, feel lost in the crowd, and yet there is in language, everyday language, a source of such sweet delight…”

This year, more than most, I’ve been reminded of the power of language, of words–the power to explain, the power to mislead, the power to divide and the power to unify. I’ve written to explore this new world we live in and to express my concern, my sorrow, my confusion and sometimes, my anger. I’ve written to share moments of joy and gratitude and to explore relationships and ideas. And sometimes I’ve written to experience the sheer beauty of playing with words and combining them in a new or unusual way. I’ve found solace and clarity in writing, and above all else, I’ve found community.

With this post I’m finishing the TWT Slice of Life Challenge: I’ve now blogged 31 days in a row.  I finish feeling enriched by participating and feeling incredibly thankful for online writing communities–places where I can join with others in a celebration of all the “sweet delights” of language, both poetic and prosaic.

If you’re interested in delighting in poetry, head on over to this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup hosted by the wonderful Amy Ludwig VanDerwater at her blog The Poem Farm. Take some time to browse through Amy’s rich home to all things poetic. You’re sure to come away delighted!

Inbox Poems

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March SOLC–Day 30

If you can write a book spine poem, why not write a poem from e-mail subject headings?  I probably have an advantage since I have about 2,000 e-mails in my Inbox, but I only culled from the first 100. Also, I limited myself to my work e-mail. My personal e-mail would have been more fun, but I wanted to increase the challenge!

Here are two:

Whoa—did you see the forecast?
Heads up!
Conferences
Adventure Time

Taste Bud Makeover
How was it??
Overprocessed

What can you create from your Inbox?

Three Things

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Whoa! The combination of daily blogging, teaching and parent teacher conferences just about does me in each March! It’s difficult to find time to think this week, much less time to write! It’s also easy to focus on the daunting piles of work and the crazy schedule and forget to be grateful for all the happy, little things. So, in an effort to reset the lens, here are three things I was grateful for yesterday:

  1. I pick my clothes out at night for the next day. Almost every evening I whine, “Kurt, what should I wear to school tomorrow?” It’s become a bit of a joke. His standard response is, “A black bra and pink panties.” He thinks that’s hilarious because I hate the word “panties” and because it’s so patently unhelpful. Last night, however, I walked into my room, looked in the closet, and an outfit practically fell off the hangers into my outstretched hands. That’s a reason for some gratitude!
  2. This year I moved up from teaching first grade to teaching fourth. In the afternoons after I walk my class to the buses, the K-2 wing is exiting the building. On my way back in I often see my former students and receive smiles, greetings and lots of hugs. Today’s count was three huge hugs and loads of smiles!
  3. Despite three no-shows and two re-schedulings today, I’m halfway done with conferences. I received a lovely sincere apology e-mail from one of my no-shows. “Dear Mrs. Hogan, I’m so sorry I missed parent teacher conference this morning.  I told C. to tell you I was a bonehead, but he refused.  It completely slipped my mind until we were out the door.  I know your time for these things is valuable, so let me apologize again.” Loved it!

Two more days in the challenge and two more days of conferences! It’s looking increasingly possible that I’ll make it through!  Hope you’re finding many things to be grateful for in your days.