It’s August, and retirement is getting real. My brain is not filled with thoughts of classroom organization, community building, lesson planning, or safety mandates. And that’s okay. Time to move on to new adventures.
This poem was the first villanelle I attempted in July as I prepared for the Poetry Sisters’ challenge. I used my clunker line from Linda Mitchell (I shake the flame out of my matchstick) but I never intended for it to be a poem about retirement. The best poems are the ones that surprise even the poet, right?
Christie, who has next week’s roundup, is gathering lines for a community “Poetry Is…” poem she’ll post next week. Be sure to check out her post and contribute a line!
The Poetry Sisters’ challenge for this month was to write a villanelle on the theme of dichotomy. Have you ever noticed that villanelle begins with villain (almost)? This is a doozie of a form and the added challenge of a dichotomy…whew! I started one with the repeating lines
In early May, on a whim, I chose zinnia seeds to plant in rows.
I managed to make it all the way through a villanelle with those lines, but it fell apart in revision. Luckily, I wrote several villanelles in July! I’m not sure there’s any clear dichotomy in this one (stormy/sunny?), and I definitely bent the rules a bit with my last line, but I had fun with enjambment!
Check out what the rest of the Poetry Sisters came up with:
Uncle Bob was not my uncle. He was my dad’s cousin, but the closest thing to family we had. He also was not a cowboy, but if you saw his slow, bow-legged saunter, his cowboy hat, his blue jeans and western snap-fasten shirts, that’s what you might think. You wouldn’t know by looking that he was the canniest dry-land farmer in the Great Plains of Eastern Colorado. He was born and raised in the part of Colorado without mountain peaks and rich soil. His landscape was wide and flat and dry. Dirt roads with thistle in the ditches marked the edges of native grassland pasture and wheat fields. Uncle Bob had a deep understanding of the land he farmed, never succumbing to “the grass is greener” mentality of irrigation. He was a dry-land farmer whose harvest depended on the land and the weather. There were good years with enough moisture, and plenty of years with dust devils and tumbleweedsbefore the rain came…or didn’t come. In the summer, many a cumulonimbus cloud appeared on the horizon, only to take its rain elsewhere, but perhaps also its hail. A winter blizzard was a mixed blessing of wind that carried topsoil away and brought moisture that did or didn’t cover the fields to nourish the winter wheat. Uncle Bob secured his success by collaborating with the land and the climate, but he allied with another of the vast natural resources of Eastern Colorado for his final venture — harvesting the wind with graceful lines of enormous turbines.
In my mind, it is night. I stand in the dusty yard where I played as a child, rusty tractors along the fence, the Milky Way a bright smear across the impossibly dark sky. Uncle Bob is in it all — land, sky, and wind.
This prose poem was written in 2019 using cards from “Paint Chip Poetry.” I learned yesterday that Uncle Bob passed away last weekend. I was looking forward to seeing him next week when we’re back home. We’ll drive past the home place and I’ll savor my memories.
Back in May, I learned that one of my poems on YDP (Your Daily Poem) made the cut for 100 chosen as “the best of YDP!”
The collection is titled POEMS TO LIFT YOU UP AND MAKE YOU SMILE. It’s not up on Amazon yet, but can be found at Parson’s Porch & Company. Here’s that poem, which I wrote back in 2012. It kind of describes my day yesterday!