A few years ago on the original A Year of Reading, I did a series of “Bike Stories.” Now that the first ride of the season has been — Ahhh CHOO! — survived, it’s time to get out more frequently and see what lessons and stories can be found this year!
Molly’s challenge to the Inklings this month was “to write a poem about some sort of domestic task.” My loss of control in the garden is embarrassingly similar to my approach to housekeeping — tidy up just enough to get by until time and energy (and usually company coming) converge to inspire a deeper cleaning.
“The show” is in full force right now in my garden. I never cease to be amazed at the transition from the exciting first tentative emergence of spring green and bloom to summer’s (seemingly sudden) surge of exuberant (over)growth.
Here’s how the rest of the Inklings interpreted this challenge:
The Poetry Sisters’ challenge for this month was to write a poem with the theme of string, thread, rope, or chain. My brainstorming took me on a trip down memory lane, beginning with a visual memory of our precisely clothes-pinned swim suits and beach towels in a perfect suit-towel-suit-towel pattern on the clothesline.
Then came crafting memories. So many of the crafts I learned from and with my mother used thread or string: macrame, cross stitch, needlepoint, embroidery, sewing.
My mother’s mother was a home ec teacher and somewhat of a tyrant when it came to precision. Mom had to baste every seam before stitching it, and if her basting stitches were not perfectly even, she had to rip them out and start over. At the time, I never fully appreciated how much Mom had to dial back when she taught me “thread arts.”
I was definitely indoctrinated in “follow the pattern,” which left me with a healthy appreciation for rituals, routines, mentor texts, patterns, instructions, and recipes, but I also have developed a deep joy found in trial-and-error, guess-and-check, innovation, and experimentation.
Yesterday morning was cloudy and drizzly. As I cleaned oak flowers out of the garden beds, I turned a corner, saw this, and literally said out loud, “Well, hello there!” At the base of the plant were the three prickly bud covers that had been shrugged off or thrown off when the poppy…popped. Let us remember that when our hearts are clenched tightly against the world, there will come a time when we’re ready to throw off our shell and blaze again with glory, in spite of everything.
Awhile back, Margaret shared extra sheets of build-your-own-metaphor-dice that Taylor Mali had sent for her students. I rolled “courage will be a sparkling needle” and it felt like the Universe was speaking directly to me. Earlier in the day I had posted my embroidered mandala for this week (19 of 52 weeks of embroidery mandalas).
Linda gave us our Inkling challenge for this month, suggesting that we “Honor someone’s April Poetry project in some way with a poem in the spirit of their project, a response poem, or some way that suits you.”
I am honoring Amy, who wrote poems in response to proverbs. I’m also honoring Tanita, who did the same, with a few twists. I didn’t dig into the history of the proverb, the way Tanita did, but like her, I wrote short enough to put my poem on a sticky note (also honoring Laura PS) along with a sketch.
one deer pair of mallards hawk on the outfield fence unseen bird chorus in the woods coal train
Today’s proverb is “Rain does not fall on one roof alone.” The contrast between the vibrant urban wildlife and the seemingly endless coal train reminded me that every human action has consequences that reverberate well beyond the point of impact. We must learn to be less myopic.
Here’s how the rest of the Inklings interpreted the challenge:
I’m for photosynthetic optimism – the bulbous kind you plant in the fall in spite of squirrels who dig ruthlessly and urban deer who nibble indiscriminately, the kind that seed packets hold through the winter believing in butterflies and hummingbirds before they’ve ever known sun and rain.
Here’s to the blazing green energy of plants– from the toughest blade of crabgrass to the most tender spring ephemeral, from the massive trunks of riverbed sycamores to the tiniest pond-floating duckweeds.
I’m for the plants – for the roots who go about their work silently, mysteriously, collaborating with mycorrhizal fungi.
And I’m for the leaves of trees – especially sweet gum’s stars and ginkgo’s fans.
I’m for the way we share the air with plants – us breathing out, plants breathing in. I’m for the generous chemistry of leaves, combining carbon dioxide with water and sun, creating carbon building blocks for itself, then sharing the extras back into the soil for the microbes.
What moves me? What plays me like a needle in a groove? Plants.
The Poetry Sisters’ challenge for this month was to write in the style of Taylor Mali. The poem I used as my mentor text is Silver-Lined Heart. Next month we are writing poems around the words string, thread, rope, or chain.
Happy Last Friday of National Poetry Month 2022! All of my NPM poems are archived here. Jone has this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup at Jone Rush MacCulloch. Like last weekend, I will be away from my computer this weekend and will look forward to catching up on your posts next week!
From the essay, “Loving a Vanishing World,” by Emily N. Johnston in ALL WE CAN SAVE:
“It’s a constant question for me every time I’m entranced by the beauty of this world: What does it mean to love this place? What does it mean to love anyone or anything in a world whose vanishing is accelerating, perhaps beyond our capacity to save the things that we love most?”
Contrails don’t give me hope in a time of climate crisis. They play a significant role in aviation-related global warming by creating clouds that trap heat on earth. But the fact that scientists are studying them does give me hope. The sudden, dramatic drop in airplane traffic in 2020 proved to researchers at MIT that their mapping of contrails was accurate.
“working with major airlines to forecast regions in the atmosphere where contrails may form, and to reroute planes around these regions to minimize contrail production.
Steven Barrett, professor and associate head of MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. “There’s an unusual opportunity to halve aviation’s climate impact by eliminating most of the contrails produced today.”
“Most measures to make aviation sustainable take a long time,” Barrett says. “(Contrail avoidance) could be accomplished in a few years, because it requires small changes to how aircraft are flown, with existing airplanes and observational technology. It’s a near-term way of reducing aviation’s warming by about half.” “
Now THAT’S hopeful. Let’s go, airline industry. The ball’s in your court.
This poem was written using The Thing Is by Ellen Bass as a mentor text. All of my poems from this week can be found here.