Poetry Friday: The Swimming Pool

Heidi gave the Inklings a tough challenge this month. She suggested that we use the “The Lost Lagoon” by Mohawk poet, Emily Pauline Johnson (d. 1913) “to build your own poem FOR CHILDREN about a treasured place that you return to again and again (geographical or metaphorical).”

The first thing I did was copy the poem into my notebook and “unpack” the poem the way we used to do weekly in my classroom. As you can see, there’s a LOT going on in this poem!

What wasn’t hard was picking my topic — the swimming pool. What WAS hard was writing a poem “FOR CHILDREN.”

Here’s how the rest of the Inklings interpreted Heidi’s challenge:

Linda@A Word Edgewise
Heidi @my juicy little universe
Molly@Nix the Comfort Zone
Catherine@Reading to the Core
Margaret@Reflections on the Teche

Carol has this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup at Beyond LiteracyLink, and the roundup will be HERE next week!

20 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: The Swimming Pool”

  1. I really enjoyed your poem, Mary Lee, especially the repeated lines about the “bright blue jewel.” Thanks for sharing your process about unpacking thementor poem first. It brought me right back to the classroom.

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  2. I want summer now. But, I can’t complain…on snow day 5 here. Yikes! It was a tough challenge but the detail of “scratchy clothes” puts it right into a child’s pov. Nice.

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  3. Honestly, I didn’t realize it would be such a tough one! The poem seemed simple to me, but I didn’t take any time to unpack it as you did before I assigned it, and the surface ease of Emily Pauline belies the complexity of the form. I think we all met it quite successfully, and yours stands out for a kind of tidiness, a clarity, like the still contained jewel of a blue pool.

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  4. Swimsuits vs. scratchy clothes-I can see why the swimming pool and summer are favorite thoughts, Mary Lee. Thanks for the memory of summer childhood days although we did not go to pools. We played stone teacher on the front steps.

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  5. Ah, now I want to go back to the pool of my teens, summer! Everyone’s poems evoke such emotions. I like the original poem, its smoothness, but it didn’t touch me like yours, Mary Lee, and those of the others, too. Maybe because you all strived “for children”? I love the focus on all the senses, ‘sun beats down’, that shimmer, ‘lifeguard’s whistle’.

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  6. Your poem made me long for summer! I especially love the bright blue jewel and quilt of towels. Beautifully written!

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  7. I felt such longing in the last paragraph, returning to school in scratchy clothes. To me a swim place was a very special place and I felt that in your poem. Nice work! and not easy.

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  8. I’m so glad you shared your dive into the poem before your dive into the pool. It’s so instructive to see your thoughts at work! The comparison of the pool to the jewel is perfect. I also like the contrast between that smoothed polished surface and those “scratchy clothes.” Well done!

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  9. I love how your last stanza leaps through time. Not evening, as we expect, but “I miss,” letting us know that hours, days, months have gone by, and I’m picturing the child sitting at their desk in January, dreaming. Also, this brought back so many memories of my childhood in swimming pools (along with lakes, rivers, and ocean) in Florida…

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  10. I love seeing your notebook. Thanks for the peek! And your poem. So many connections. I like what you did with that bright blue jewel. My husband is an aquatics guy and so pool for exercise means something different to him compared to me. I have gained a fondness for the benefits of pools thanks to him. I have a funny story you might enjoy. I was never a great swimmer (no childhood pool for me) but once I met him at age 19 he taught me enough so I could do a passable job especially breast stroke. As time went on and we worked at a Y sleep away camp, he in swimming and me in performing arts, I came to know more and more about swimming and lifeguarding, first-aid courses and instruction. When older we returned and I was a volunteer. I helped out a lot at the waterfront and pool, and learned even more. At the end of one summer in late August, the swim counselors were tired and my husband asked if I would assist with swim class for the youngest, beginning day campers so I did. It was fun. On the second to last day of camp it was raining so activities moved indoors. But not for this one young kid, Sebastian, who knew he had been making good progress in swimming. So he came to the pool and asked where his teacher was. Me? I was cozy in my nearby cabin, but went to the pool when called. I was the only staff member teaching outside that day, under my umbrella and actually loving it. Sebastian was so proud, so sweet and so happy that the next day he could show off his skills to his family on the final day of classes. I never saw him again, but imagine that this bright blue jewel is a pool he remembers. One never knows how life will go. There is a part 2 to my pool experience so your poem truly touched home for this mainly non-pool person. I relate to the love so many have for this very good sport. And the way your poem brings it to life. PS I loved playing in pools when we camped around the country as kids!!

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  11. This is beautiful Mary-Lee! All the sensory detail brought these scenes vividly to life for me. Thanks for sharing your poem and for introducing me to a new poet.

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  12. Chlorine and New Mown Grass should be a perfume…Summer! Just lovely. Thank you for sharing the original, your notes on the poem, your process, and this jewel which brought me home to a certain pool of my own childhood. xx

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