This month’s Poetry Sisters Challenge was so much fun! The first fun was diving into each sister’s blog archives to find a poem that invited me to respond. Then, the fun was in “talking back” to her poem.
Tricia wrote “The Dizzying Stress of Tidying Up (with apologies to Marie Kondo),” to which I reply
The urge to collect
runs as deep as arthritis
in mom’s bones and mine.
A small house is a good thing.
I collect miniatures.
Tanita’s poems were in response to the Poetry Peeps prompt: Wish I’d Been There, or an historical event that incites wistfulness, to which I reply
take me back in time
not very far, or for long:
my parents’ wedding
before arthritis plagued mom
while dad was still a pilot
Sara’s poem using Linda Hogan’s “Innocence” as her model and including the phrase, “There is nothing more ____ than ____” was a poem about trees, to which I reply
there is nothing
more glorious than twin gingkoes
until one falters
slowly dying limb by limb
one tree left holding fall’s flame
.I borrowed the last line of Liz’s haiku from April 26, 2021 for the first line of my tanka in which I reply
no one stays for long
learn to cup your hands gently
loosen your tight grip
now you are the steady tree
next you’ll be leaves on the wind
Laura wrote “Why You Cry When You Read Me,” to which I reply
Where the Red Fern Grows,
Love Story, Little Britches,
Old Yeller, Charlotte’s Web:
books that squeeze my heart so hard
I cry every single time.
Kelly wrote “Cookie Time,” to which I reply
Dozens and dozens:
gingerbread for twenty years
then seventeen years
of sugar cookie cutouts.
One thing I always got right.
.Andi wrote a snake poem, to which I reply (about a different species)
every day just after dusk
black formal attire
accented by white cap, stripe
the dropped birdseed is all yours
All of these tanka are ©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021. The image is via Unsplash, by Tom Hill.
Laura’s response to the challenge and today’s Poetry Friday roundup are at Laura Purdie Salas: Small Reads for Brighter Days.
The other Poetry Sisters’ posts are here:
24 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Conversations”
Thanks for sharing so many tankas, Mary Lee! I loved the one about the gingkoes (I had a favorite gingko I visited often at Longwood Gardens). And I think we have similar taste in books that make you cry – Where the Red Fern Grows, for sure.
I love each one, Mary Lee, the response to Sara’s ‘Cookie Time’, ha! & like Rose, you touched me with that tanka from Laura’s, each book, but especially “Little Britches”.
Mary Lee, it is exciting to read your poetry potpourri from different Poetry Sisters. I like the snake poem, “black formal attire”. I saw a small one in my new garage. There was a large one in our community clubhouse but it may have followed the mice out into the woods. Of course, the tanka on reading books was lovely at the end, “books that squeeze my heart so hard/I cry every single time.”.
Oh, my heart. These are stunning. That book poem! My husband and I first connected over Where the Red Ferns Grow, so I love it unreasonably so. Thank you for the tender extension of all these conversations. I’m so moved….
💓💓💓 Well done, Mary Lee! I ate up the humor of miniatures and dropped birdseed, and the heart-squeezes of lonely trees and tragic dog books.
Mary Lee, you are an EXCELLENT conversationalist. I’m inviting you to every dinner party I host from now on, haha. Seriously, you’ve outdone yourself—each of these is thoughtful and precise and generous. I’m so glad you joined our poetry gang!
Wowza! I love these responses, Mary Lee! As a fellow collector now living in a small home, I find a revolving door policy works well for me: I still gather new trinkets when they call to me, but only if I’m willing to give up one of the old ones… I’ve come to think of our home as an ever evolving exhibition… and it’s helping me enjoy/celebrate the temporary nature of so many things (including ourselves, which you also so beautifully write about here . xo
Oh, Mary Lee, these are all so wonderful! You have sampled such a lovely range, and made your own a delightful response. I have seen a few of those formally attired night visitors myself! 😉
Holy moley. So much wistfulness and loveliness and gratitude here. Plus a dash of humor at the end–ha!
These are wonderful Mary Lee! You’re so prolific.
I identify with your gingerbread and sugar cookie poem – I love the last line particularly.
LOVE all of these, Mary Lee, and yes, you are a terrific conversationalist. I smiled at your response to Kelly’s cookie poem (naturally), and nodded at your list of tear-jerking books (though I haven’t read Little Britches and now I must). But probably the tanka that I most identified with is the first one — my problem is that I’m a collector through and through and have been trying (in vain) to pare down for awhile now. I love the idea of a small house with miniatures.
Oh, no, your ginko! Autumn is losses, and now only one tree left to carry that flame – but in such a lovely way. And I do just love your little friend in their formal blacks with the white cap and stripe — a natty little visitor one might just give wide berth!
I laugh that you couldn’t choose just one person either. This was a good excuse to page back through years of poetry, but… it’s hard to leave so many on the table.
Well, Laura’s poem gives us, “Not every boat returns to port” but how they tenderly touch us, as does your tanka-book-filled response to her poem, and squeeze our hearts too, thanks for this rich collection Mary Lee!
These are so good, Mary Lee; the last one made me laugh, too. My parents’ neighbor had a beautiful ginkgo that my dad would always remark on. It was not just a ginkgo; it was John Batte’s Ginkgo Tree With Its Pretty Yella [southern accent] Leaves. Your poem is a poignant reminder. “Fall’s flame,” indeed.
Each and every one of these is fabulous, Mary Lee! Wow! The poignant ones really resonated with me– that ginkgo, the leaves on the wind and those heart squeezing books. You really knocked this challenge out of the park!
Mary Lee, wow, I love all your talking back replies to the poems of others. Rich, indeed. Here are some of my favorites:
“runs as deep as arthritis” – It sounds like it is coming from someone who knows how deep that really is.
Your “take me back in time” poem is so poignant
“Twin gingkoes” Glorious, yes!
“Where the Red Fern Grows” – Wah! I can’t read it without a bucket of tears.
To Which I Reply | by Mary Lee Hahn
to which I reply: the urge to collect
to which I reply: take me back in time
to a poem about trees, to which I reply
one tree left holding fall’s flame
in which I reply: next you’ll be leaves on the wind
to which I reply: I cry every single time
to which I reply (about a different species)
every day just after dusk, to which I reply
one thing I always got right.
Your pleasure in having the time to respond to this challenge with utmost thoroughness flows off the screen. LOVELY.
All of these are wonderful, but I think my favorite is the cookies! That last line is a prompt all its own. I’m saving this post so I can go back and read all the poems you’re responding to (to which you’re responding). 🙂 Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com
Congrats on writing tanka for all of the Poetry Princesses. I really liked the cookies and the snake (perhaps because of my latest encounter with one, he was sleeping and looked like a heart).
Terrific Tankas Mary Lee. As I wrote on Laura’s post, responding with poetry to one another’s poem has much to recommend it. A great project and one I would expect gave you all a strong sense of satisfaction. The primacy affect kicked in for me and I particularly enjoyed reading your first Tanka treat.
What a charming collection you have, Mary Lee. The form suits you!
This is an amazing collection of tanka, Mary Lee. I love them all, but as an inveterate collector myself, I think “the urge to collect” is my favorite. Well done!
These are great, and a fun project and way to find prompts. I particularly loved and responded to the tanka about the twin ginkgoes, and the response in the next one.
What fun, Mary Lee, and what a collection! I loved your reply to Tanita’s prompt. Tender and wistful. And I love that image of tightening hands and loosening grip. Reminds me of the ending of Mary Oliver’s In Blackwater Woods.