There are some days when love shows up at your front door with open arms.There are days where conversations have less miles between each word. My husband and I, like children, soaked up love sitting across the table from my parents, our parents. Our three boys were swirls of joy, in and out of arms and smiles. Time passed as early morning spilled into dusk, the darkening skies wrapped with a few tears and goodbyes.
There is no blueprint,
just love and geometry,
as we build, engineer,
wonder solve, spread all over
the furniture, the living room.
There is love and silence clicked
and cluttered in those colored
plastic blocks, those endless
renditions, that time well spent.
“The important feature that design brings is this bridge between the science and the arts. And I don’t think many people understand the power of design to put these two things together.”—Bill Moggridge
When you are away, we do not sit in your seat at the table. It is yours, and we honor it. Leave it as you left it pushed in or out, a piece of your clothing draped across the back of the chair, a dusting of crumbs near the cold center groove where you last sat and ate warm penne, garlic bread, a salad. In that chair, your thin legs dangling, you are somewhere between cherry and blonde wood, between disparate emotional spaces, between places you call home.
Underneath golden streams and inside cool breeze, weekends were made for finding shadows and standing still.
There might be magic in children’s books as they have a way to settle down wiggly awkward boy bodies, commanding stares and stillness. Even the busiest little people find time to take in words, images, and meaning. I love how without prompting my eight year old will read to his three year old brother. There is literacy between them, huddled on the bed together, leaning over a book, my eight year old acting out the character voices with such fervor. For a few minutes there are no arguments, no rolling around on the floor, no jumping on the bed. There is only two brothers, finding their way word by word, sentence by sentence, together.
This found poem is from the colorful spines on the bookshelf in my sons’ room. Children’s books are a wonder, and covered and filled with poetry.
Sunday rose burns, blurs my vision, these thorns
crooked in my eye. The baby’s eyes wet
with rapid blinks and bruised petals along
his cheeks. Salt pastes the narrow groove beside
his eye, like mine, they sting, tighten, dry. We
are the same with our swollen nodes and sore
throats, our slippery symptoms and clean hands.
Blood vessels, like swollen roads in the white
of our eyes, the pulse, the tightening, tears.
At home we are contagious together,
waiting for the time to pass. Tomorrow,
when we are apart, we will wish for time
without fevers, without stinging pink eyes.
Contagion is a human spell very few of us can avoid altogether. At some point we all are vulnerable to falling ill. In this poem I was curious about a mother and child, a passing of illness, of love, of time. I thought about how I’ve been sick with my own children, cuddled in bed, both of us warm inside of each others’ fever and grasp. I love writing about those vulnerable moments, portraying life even when it’s messy.
Though this poem is not about a “lovely” subject, my sense is that poetry isn’t only about what is lovely. Our lives are complicated with emotion and events so why should those truths not exist in our poems? I appreciate how poetry seems to have an ability to carve beauty in the ordinary, even the awful. It seems more about capturing a snapshot, finding, noticing acute bright notes and darkened wounds, writing those experiences in candid verse with vivid detail and rhythm. This poem, an attempt at blank verse, aimed to capture this moment between parent and child, the time between illness and health, between pallid and pink.
How do you creatively write about the ordinary?
While typing on my laptop, my three year old asked, “What are you doing mom?”
“That’s not writing,” he said, motioning his hand as if writing with a pencil on paper.”
“It’s not? Then what is it?” I said.
Thinking hard about his response, he said, “You’re doing letters.”
“Oh,” I said pausing. “Well then can I ‘do’ some more letters?”
“Well thank you.”
My three year old on the muddy orange sunset, “That’s a lava sky.”
Robert Frost once speculated on the relationship between poetry and thought, conjecturing that all thinking was grounded in metaphor. Many people never took him seriously. Now, thanks to the work of many theorists in a number of diverse fields, from linguistics to philosophy to cognitive science, we can say with some certainty that he was right. Sentences build themselves around analogies; thought creates visual pictures in our brains; metaphors shape our ways of seeing the world. All of this appears to be done mostly unconsciously, as we filter messages, both verbal and visual, from our environment and shape those signs and clues into world-responses. -Terry Hermsen, writer, educator, author of Poetry of Place: Helping Students Write Their Worlds
image via morguefile
Every now and then our Saturday is less scheduled, relatively uneventful, and just us. Three is company, and five is a lovely crowd. I’ll take my Saturday with a side of family.
but I heard, as I have
so many times before,
his wail, his wrinkled face
a solemn song. His long
slender limbs folded
awkward like brittle branches.
His tears rounded
bunched skin, blushed cheeks,
left bits of spotted salty white.
A collision on the playground,
down the slide,
elbow to ankle,
laughter then tears,
broken and bruised,
heal and repeat.
image: via silverfishlongboarding.com
Added to my series on creative play, I thought I might include a poem pairing. The kids are still “not playing with their toys”, but I find they are still inspiring me to write about their creative adventures with everyday “stuff”.
There is a poem in play. A child
on bended knees, ringing metal chimes
in the sunlight, atop honey-colored wood
scraped with steel and laughter. Circles scattered
on the floor, those silver eyes like spinning tops.
The other day…
My three year old: Good morning mommy. What is daddy doing?
Me: Good morning honey, I think he’s making breakfast and singing.
My three year old: What’s he singing?
Me: I don’t know, you should ask him.
My three year old: I think he’s singing a bright, bright song with tricks and fire.
My three-year-old is steadily sharpening his food palette and it made a mom proud when he asked for “baby carrots” for breakfast the other day. I thought to myself, “Is this a trick?” But instead of second guessing his request, I simply grabbed a carrot. He responded by kindly asking for three more. Inside I was thoroughly overjoyed, but on the outside, I played it cool by simply nodding and acting as if this was a completely normal everyday request.
I then went on to acknowledge how supportive I was of his healthy food choice. But before I could finish the praise, he asked for celery; then followed with a request for cranberries. Certainly this wasn’t my three-year-old in the kitchen early that morning asking me for vegetables and fruits. Surely, this was some kind of anomaly, or weird out-of-body experience (for both him and I). Granted, we do eat healthy as a family and I’ve worked hard to teach and encourage my boys to develop healthy eating habits. But who knew my three-year-old would show this much initiative at such a young age on such a random day. It was a rare display of sophistication that I welcomed with elation and simultaneous awe.
With shapes of pale green, bright orange, and maroon, my three-year-old had single-handedly made me so proud in that moment as he filled his open hands with a rainbow of vitamins and nutrients. But it didn’t stop there. “Look at my feast!” he exclaimed. “I see it,” I said, “Tasty.” “Yes, it’s tasty mom,” he said. And as he took bite after bite of his fruit and vegetables, he began to sculpt his feast, playing with his food as appetizer, munching on pretend castles, slides, sailboats, and coins. He not only made terrific healthy food choices that morning, he had fun, as he played his way through eating each crunchy, chewy bite.
Whose suggested kids not play with their food? I suppose I don’t see the big deal as long as they are curious and eating. It was in that play that he explored texture, shape, and taste. It was in that play that he took his time eating, making different pairings along with different pretend scenarios. It was cute, but it was also him building his taste palette, making good food choices on his own. Besides, I’ll take a little play with a lot of healthy eating any day.
Happy Friday, I hope my three-year-old inspires you to eat a bit healthier today and everyday. I’m going to go grab a few carrots right now.
The forecast calls for 5-7 inches of snow, and we’re making preparations for the day, and for the next few days. With inclement weather on the horizon, what is a writer to do? Stay in where it’s warm, write, and revise of course. Hope your Sunday isn’t as snow covered, but if it is, please stay safe and warm.
Handwriting Thank You (link)
A Split Second Decision (link)
Fatherhood, a Snapshot (link)
We go through love (link)
Saturday mornings were made for siblings sharing laughs, a yellow plush giraffe and a red caterpillar, for lying around in orange pajamas, and taking in the gray day.
With so much recent public discussion about the politics of parenting in this macro, policy shifting sense, I’ve been thinking a lot about the dozens of micro choices we make as parents every day. Every moment seems to be a shifting, a debate within ourselves as to how to parent, and what we do about time.
The other morning as I gathered my things, a bag on each arm, my wedges (and my flats), a snack for my commute, my three year old, with his pleading brown eyes looked to me and said, “I want to go with you.” It was in that split second that I had to think, to possibly craft a response, a clever one, a concise one (as I was already a bit behind schedule). I thought to myself, I needed to let him down easy, counter his request with a promise to pick him up from school or take him to school the next day. But in that split second, or maybe many more seconds later, I realized where I was headed (work) was fixed. My job (though I had a big program going on that day) wasn’t going anywhere, it would be there when I got there, even if I got into the office just a few minutes later than I had planned. I would still be early and prepared, the work would still get done, and the program would still go on.
But back in the living room with my three year old, I considered there might not be another ask if in this very moment I said, “no.” My husband questioned whether or not I had time to take him to school, but I thought to myself, “I could make time.” It was such a simple request. He wasn’t asking for anything unreasonable, it wasn’t a major crisis, it was an ask for more time. Time, the thing we all seem to grapple with; and as a parent, the thing that seems to elude me every single day. In that very moment my son just needed more time with me, and as I rounded out all of the reasons (or maybe excuses) for why I could have said, “not today,” or “maybe later,” I simply said, “o.k.”. He put on his socks, his shoes, and his coat; then grabbed my hand, looked up and smiled. “I’m going with mommy,” he announced. In that very moment nothing else mattered but his hand in mine, walking out the door to school, to work, together.
That sleepy baby lying across his father’s lap is a soft pod, warm in elbow bend. His tiny fingers barely curl around his father’s worn knuckles, cup his stubble chin, press thumb against kiss.
There are men that father, breathe in deliberate moments of time with the child or children in their lives. Sign a wisdom with deep voices, burly echoes as acts of love and parenting, raise that child, those children with their hands and their hearts.
After a bit of reading, re-reading, writing, I offer up words and wonder from the past week. I hope your Sunday is unfolding beautifully. Enjoy.
When it comes to you (link)
Good morning Chicago (link)
Orange and Blue (link)
In Love (link)
When you are away your younger brother leaves space for you to play beside him on the rug, he saves you a toy, even if when you are here he doesn’t always like to share. He calls your name as if you will walk through the door or down the stairs to be with him. He hears us try to explain the swaying shifts of our family, the days you are away. He twists his face in confusion as we try to give him words for where you are in exchange for that empty space next to him on the sofa, at the table, in the room you both share. He still stands in the window looking for you, waiting. And I understand that wait because I’ve now taken up standing beside him.
Weekends, the reminder to relax, revise, to take a moment to rethink, rewrite, and remix life, writing, time. Here are a few posts from this week slightly revised and remixed. Now on to relaxing. Enjoy your Sunday!
DIY Creative: Rainbow Slice (link)
Part of the Celebration (link)
The Company We Keep (link)
“That’s the magic of revisions – every cut is necessary, and every cut hurts, but something new always grows.”—Kelly Barnhill
Just days ago six inches of snow covered the ground. Today there are gray dingy puddles beside those slow melting mounds that circle the playground and mirror the sun.