Poetry Friday is hosted today by Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect

This first Friday of June, the Inklings are being challenged by Molly Hogan who wrote, “I’m always startled by the dazzle of color that arrives in spring after months and months of blues and whites and greys. This month I’m inviting you to write a color poem.” Little did I know that I would be having cataract surgeries on May 23rd and 30th, so the attention to color would be all the more brilliant. I can see such vivid yellows, greens, and reds I feel I have been looking through a clouded glass bottle for a long time.

I found inspiration in this poem by Eileen Spinelli :

I have a collection of red flowers all around my house, hibiscus, bougainvillea, lily, and desert rose. I shared my first draft with the Inklings. Linda suggested that I turn my red poem upside down. It worked. Sometimes others can see more clearly what the poem needs to be.

See how other Inklings approached this challenge:

Mary Lee @Another Year of Reading
Linda @A Word Edgewise
Heidi @my juicy little universe
Molly @Nix the Comfort Zone
Catherine @Reading to the Core

The gathering for Spiritual Journey Thursday is at Leap of Dave.

My friend-cousin-counselor-priest Annie told me to speak up. I was assigned to read the first reading on Pentecost Sunday. It was an important one, the one with all the languages spoken, the tongues of fire, the coming of the Holy Spirit. I needed to speak loud and with confidence into the nave of our historical church.

Under all the weight I am carrying, my voice is fading.

My voice
by hard things
heavy stuff
losing my way
losing my voice.

Ironically, before she made the comment, I had started a playlist “I Have a Voice” based on the duet by Alicia Keys and Brandi Carlisle. She suggested I add the song “One Voice” by the Wailin’ Jennys.

This beautiful song with a simple, yet strong message: We are not alone.
The message of Pentecost.
Jesus says, “I will not leave you orphaned.” (John 14:18)
Orphan is a lonely word.
As my mother falls deeper into the depths of dementia, I lose
the mother, confidante, nurse, and guiding light
she once was for me. Orphaned slowly.
Annie also told me this is a sacred time, a time when my mother’s hand is still
soft to touch. She still calls my name. She still smiles at the sound
of my voice. I am not alone.
Jesus calls us: “The Spirit of truth abides in you.” (John 14:17)
As my voice fades, Jesus’s spirit rises
to take over, to hold me, to lift my voice
to speak, to say, “I love you”
again and again.
I have a voice.

Summer is here! This is the time I travel vicariously through others. Because of circumstances keeping me at home this summer, I will not be traveling. But my 24 year-old niece recently toured Portugal and posted dreamy, beautiful photos. I asked her if I should put Portugal on my bucket list and her response was “Yes! The hills/stairs are killer but it’s so beautiful.” I’m having second thoughts, but maybe I can build up to it. My walking path is flat and the last time I did an elliptical, I couldn’t walk for a few days. This photo was taken by Taylor Saxena in Madeira, Portugal.

For this flash draft, I used my Insight Timer, an ap that offers a timer with ambient sounds as well as meditations. I’ve set the timer for 5 minutes. When you write today, consider a time limit and accept what comes.

Thoughts come and go. Feelings come and go. Find out what it is that remains.

Ramana Maharshi

I think about going.
I feel what it means to stay.
Stay near you,
listen to the sounds of your voice;
stay for what may be
the last time.
Margaret Simon, draft

Please sit and stay. Write what comes and place your words in the comments. They don’t have to be good or perfect, but they are yours for now, this moment. Reply to other writers with encouraging words.

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.
Wikimedia Commons Black-bellied whistling duck

If you have read my blog through the years, you may already know that we raise wood ducks. Actually, we have a wood duck house that has a Ring doorbell camera inside. In February and March of this year we watched a mother wood duck dutifully attend to a dozen eggs and successfully hatch 8 of them. We missed actually witnessing Jump Day because it was a school day. I even missed watching the little ducklings climbing out on my phone video because I was out at recess.

In the past we have had two clutches, one in March and another in May or June. But this year the duck house remained empty for weeks after the first mother left with her eight little ducklings. We waited.

Once again we have a tenant duck, but not a wood duck. It’s a Mexican squealer or black-bellied whistling duck. At first we were disappointed, but as the weeks have gone back, this weird orange-billed duck has won over our hearts. We’ve had to learn about this breed.

The first thing we noticed in the description were the not-so-favorable adjectives, words like “boisterous” and “gaudy”.

Fun Facts about Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks

  • Known as tree ducks because they hang out in trees.
  • “Sexual dimorphism”: both male and female look alike.
  • They form lifelong pair bonds. Both male and female tend to the hatchlings.
  • There are plenty of them, low-conservation concern.

Egg incubation is 25-30 days. I marked that the first night of sitting was on May 5th, so we should see hatching in the next week or so. The babies are colored like bumblebees, yellow and black feathering. Whether wood ducks or whistlers, our nest box continues to entertain us.

Inside the nest box, the whistling duck is taller than a wood duck and can look out the window.

With Linda Mitchell today at A Word Edgewise.

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Janice Scully at Salt City Verse.

Dropping a smoothie sent me over the edge.
I was trying too hard to hold it all, and the weight shifted.
Everything fell out of arms and undid me.
Return to Presence, my Enneathought of the Day says,
but a return to presence meant I needed to start over.

Give me a task, a group of fourth graders to watch over.
I can count to ten, but I can’t climb down from the bleachers.
I can sit on the floor with them to eat lunch, but I can’t
get back up. Know thyself.
Be true to who you are.

A body that is running on fumes of a school year.
A plate that is toppling, balanced on a single finger.

Among the smiles of graduates on Facebook,
I found a poem, a gift of Mary Oliver
whose wisdom buoys me,
“How two hands touch and the bonds will
never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.”
Comfort me, oh poem.
Be with me, in me, over me.
Help me walk back into school today
another day in May.

Margaret Simon, flash draft because I’ve been too busy to spend any time on crafting a poem.

May as a teacher is the hardest month of the year. Emotions are heightened. We are trying to squeeze in field trips, fun day/water day, ceremonies, awards, grades, and all the other seemingly endless paper work. It’s overwhelming. I didn’t have a poem ready for today, so I just did what I do best, open the blank blog post and write straight from my gut. This stress will be over soon, and I will settle into the relaxing days of summer. But today, there is much to do and little time to get it done. I’m sure you know what I mean. All my best to all the teachers out there just trying to make it to the end still smiling, still loving their job, and still being their best selves.

Waterfall exhibit at the Hilliard Museum in Lafayette, LA.

I am a hopeless romantic who believes that dreams come true. Recently, for me that has been wonderfully true and painfully false all at the same time. I think that’s life. How can someone capture that feeling in a photograph? Molly Hogan does. The photo for today she took on her way to work. The caption on Facebook simply said, “What almost made me late for work twice this week.” The reality is that we work every day, and sometimes those days are hard and don’t go the way we planned. We do it anyway, every day. But sometimes there is beauty that stops us in our tracks, makes us pull the car over and wonder at the miracle of two things, flowering branch and rising sun, can come together in a composition of Awe.

Put on your awe-glasses today. Find the flower in the rainstorm. Be aware that life will not always be so hard. Breathe. Join me in musing over this amazing photo and write for a few minutes. It will be good for your soul.

Photo by Molly Hogan.

Summer Comes

I have a long list
of things to do.
You know the one
we write each May
and tick away day by day
until you wake up on a morning
in June and find peace
on a branch with blue blossoms
welcoming you awake.

Margaret Simon, flash draft

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge

Last year on Mother’s Day, we gathered for my father’s funeral, all together, happy to have each other to hold. I am a mother who is blessed to have two living mothers, my own and my mother-in-law, who said years ago when someone called me her daughter, “I’ll claim her.”

A long line of belonging
begins with mothers
to me
to my three daughters
to their children.
We are miracles
dancing beside each other.

My brother texted me a video this week of my mother with her assisted living friends in a circle singing “Amazing Grace.” I responded, “When I am old, I want to sing hymns.”

My mother-in-law (affectionately called “Minga”) recites the 23rd Psalm in French every night before she sleeps.

Every night, my daughter reads Madeline to her daughter, “In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.”

There is a song inside of me that I wrote after Joni Mitchell for my granddaughter June. She doesn’t know it yet, but I hope she will one day.

Little June 

after Joni Mitchell’s “Little Green”

Born with the moon in solstice.
Choose her a name she will want to say.
Call her June so December cannot freeze her.
Call her June for the rosy warmth of her skin.
Little June, be a strong butterfly.

Just a little June
like the brightness of a summer’s day.
There’ll be dandelions to pick for Mom tomorrow.
Just a little June
like when sprinklers make the water spray.
There’ll be bicycles and birthday bows
And cousins you will follow.

Margaret Simon
Baby June with my daughter, Martha in a field of bluebonnets.

This week I’m an irresponsible photo stealer. I usually credit the photographer, but I have this photo in my phone, and I know I didn’t take it. Someone else did. I just can’t remember who. If it was you, please claim it. Mary Lee remembered that this photo was on Kim Douillard’s blog Thinking Through my Lens.

I was fascinated by the perspective of the ladder, how it seems to go nowhere grounded by nothing and yet, we know the laws of gravity won’t allow this to be true. I used a random word generator for a word group to use: loose, danger, refuse, chalk.

Can you use the same words in a different way? Let’s explore perspective today. And if that’s too much to ask, just write and share. It’s May and my brain power is waning significantly.

Ladder to the sky, Kim Douillard

Danger becomes refuse
when the sky invites me up.
I loose my sense of direction
the chalk line blurs,
and I let go and fly.

Margaret Simon, draft
Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

On Sunday morning, I noticed the chrysalis on my back porch that I had nurtured was turning black. This could be a good sign or a bad sign. I found the swallowtail caterpillar in my friend’s garden when she was offering me two dill plants for my student’s butterfly garden project. I took the cactus it was hanging out on as well as some dill for feeding it.

When the little puffed up caterpillar made its chrysalis, he did it on the dill. Yikes, I knew the dill would die eventually because it was just in water. What actually happened was the dill stem bent down. No! The chrysalis must stay in the position it was made in.

Swallowtail chrysalis usually takes on the color of its environment. It can be green or brown.

I found a stick in my yard, placed it next to the dill stem with the chrysalis and tied then together with dental floss. I wasn’t sure it would work. This chrysalis traveled home in my car and sat on my back porch for another week. Until Sunday.

There he was, like a miracle, fully formed and on the just right day before the school week started again. I was able to take him to school, show him off to students in the hallway and with the gentle help of Avalyn, we released him into the wild.

My friend Mary who originally gave me the caterpillar is out of town tending to her brother Carlos. I named the butterfly Carlos and now he is roaming free somewhere in Coteau. We hope our newly planted butterfly garden nurtures him, but as with all wild things, we will never know.