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Poetry Friday Round-up is here. Scroll to the end to find the link up and join.

Today is my birthday. I am turning the age of the year I was born. Can you do the math? I have to admit I am not a fan of birthdays. Being born in August has never appealed to me. It’s always hot and usually rainy. But with daily rain comes daily rainbows. Over the last few days I’ve seen a few big ones. I stop my car and get out to take a picture. I wish the pictures could show the colors and size, but you’ll have to just imagine it.

My Heart Leaps Up

William Wordsworth – 1770-1850

My heart leaps up when I behold 
   A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began; 
So is it now I am a man; 
So be it when I shall grow old, 
   Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

Birthday card from Linda Mitchell, my birthday “sistar”
Summer Poem Swap from Patricia J. Franz

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!Click here to enter

Join me and other writers in the comments. Write a small poem in response to the image. Encourage other writers with comments.

Words fascinate me. But sometimes they just puzzle me. I was scrolling through Instagram and came across my sister-in-law Julie’s beautiful post. She lives in Seattle and is a potter. Her Instagram is newleafseattle. She observes (and photographs) nature in her own unique way. This photo was captioned “On an Island in the Salish Sea – ‘choose a path and follow it.”

I asked “Where is the Salish Sea?” Then I googled and started to feel dumb (this is not a new feeling for me). The Salish (say-lish) Sea includes Georgia Strait, Puget Sound, and Strait of Juan de Fuca. Surely I have heard of this before with as many times we have visited Seattle. My google search revealed that the term was created in 1988, so it’s fairly recent, and was created to honor the Coast Salish, indigenous people of the area. Wikipedia offered this statement, “In a 2019 survey of residents in the general vicinity of the Salish Sea, only 9 percent of Washingtonians and 15 percent of British Columbians were able to correctly identify and name the Salish Sea.” This justifies my confusion but does not excuse it.

Let’s take a look at the photograph of rocks. Are you drawn in by the different colors of rocks or by the rings around the large stone? Let the muse take you where it will.

photo by Julie Braybrooks, newleafseattle


Like rings around a stone
encircle time,

I hold close

embrace
my path.

Margaret Simon, draft
Poetry Friday is hosted today by Inkling Molly Hogan at Nix the Comfort Zone.

Today is the first Friday in August and my first day of school, but it’s also time for an Inkling challenge. This month Catherine wanted to give us something easy to write. She thought about sports. I am not all that sporty, but I do have a poem in the anthology Rhyme & Rhythm: poems for student-athletes (Archer Books. 2021). It’s a duplex poem about swimming.

As I contemplated this challenge, I turned to my weekly yoga class. I am going to miss this class during the school year. I love the instructor and the way she speaks to us. I’ve always thought it was like poetry. So on Wednesday, I recorded the class. This poem is a transcription with poetic license. I decided to play with having no punctuation and using space and line breaks to pause. Does this work?

The Sport of Mindfulness

Breathing is healing
relaxation 
brings the body together 
all cells communicate together
Breathe and communicate
into one focus. breath

Notice if your thoughts move
into a pattern bring yourself back 
to your anchor
your breath

Back and forth a tennis match with yourself
building a new skill purposeful
intentional thinking

Lean into the stretch        spread your fingers
press into the palm          open your muscles

Stay with the breath
Challenge yourself
Focus ride the waves
of discomfort Then it starts to feel good

Exhale pose
thank you colon
thank you liver
thank you spleen
gallbladder pancreas
Thank you for all your hard work
Toxins moving out release

Come back to the breath
The sound of the wind sound of the music
Sensation of being in the room  among friends
No responsibilities

Nature is abundant
Bring awareness to your abundance
You are abundant thriving We are all thriving

We all meet at the center
Namaste. 

For Susan Grain
Margaret Simon, draft

See how other Inklings met this challenge:
Linda Mitchell
Molly Hogan
Catherine Flynn
Heidi Mordhorst
MaryLee Hahn

Photo by Elina Fairytale on Pexels.com

Spiritual Thursday:

Spiritual Thursday Posts are gathered today at Beyond Literacy Link

abandon the shoes that had brought you here
right at the water’s edge, not because you had given up
but because now, you would find a different way to tread,

from “Finisterre” by David Whyte, Gratefulness.org

Sometimes we have to abandon shoes, say goodbye, leave something or someone behind.

Today is my last day of summer as we define it in the world of education, not by the actual season but by the school calendar. I go back to school tomorrow. Students will come next Wednesday and the year 2022-23 will be up and running.

I will leave behind the shoes of slow mornings, lingering over coffee and conversation. When this time arrives, it’s hard not to evaluate your summer. The question to my colleagues and students will be “How was your summer?” So in one word, we evaluate how we spent our days off. “Good” “Rough” “Crazy” “Busy” “Fun” “Exhausting”

Which shoes will I reminisce about when I hear this question?

Teva sandals,

straps of yellow, pink, orange, and blue

draw attention to my feet, my yellow toenails.

I can walk through water in these shoes.

Hold steady in a river raft.

They are made of sunshine and beach shores,

strappy bathing suits and splash pad sprinklers.

I relax into them, feel summer fresh.

I will leave these at the shore of school days,

put on sensible teacher shoes,

and walk into a new school year.

If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.

[Paulo Coelho]

Ruth invites us to Share our Stories about saying hello (or goodbye)
Let the photo inspire you to write. Leave a small poem in the comments.

We have had a string of rainy days here in South Louisiana. It happens most summers and helps to regulate the rising temperatures. Some days you feel as though you will never dry out. The air is wet. The ground is wet. Your body is wet.

The grass loves all this moisture and it grows and grows. In a nearby empty lot, the grass is almost as tall as I am. On a recent walk I stopped to look at it. Even the weeds of nature that grow out of control are beautiful. Nature is ongoing, reliably replenishing, and ever growing. Maybe your area of the world is hot and dry. Wash yourself in the lushness of the bayou side.

photo by Margaret Simon

Nature makes no demands.
Listen to the wind through the grass.
Earth’s song in harmony.

Modern haiku, Margaret Simon, draft

My summer is winding down quickly. I start back to school next Friday. But the Summer Poem Swap is in full swing. Tabatha Yeatts organized pairings of poets to exchange creativity, gifts, and poetry. My third swap was with Carol Varsalona. (Note: I still owe her my end of the bargain.) Carol is a digital master. If you visit her website, you can find pages of inspirational digital creations. She used this prowess to create for me a Google slide show. She also sent me a print form. You can view the whole slideshow here.

The poem that Molly Hogan sent me had a similar theme of peace and tranquility. Are these poets trying to tell me something? Or do they recognize something in me that I am struggling to find within myself? Poetry is a profound and powerful presence in my life. Thanks Carol for your creative and sensitive expression of love.

Marcie Atkins has the round up today.
Welcome to my weekly musing. Leave a small poem in the comments and share encouraging support to other writers.

The last five days I was with my mother at her retirement home. I have so many mixed emotions when I visit. I miss Dad who died in April. I have gotten to know many of the residents and staff and enjoy spending time with them. I worry about Mom who has early Alzheimer’s. I am surrounded by childhood memories.

This weekend I was helping to move Mom down the hall to a smaller apartment. My girls and their spouses and toddlers came in on Saturday to help. It was chaos that was efficient. The men moved the big furniture pieces with ease. The toddlers bounced on the bed mattress and played with a basket full of toys and generally screamed as toddlers do. I was grateful for the help. After they left I worked on organizing, culling, and hanging paintings and photographs. By the time I left yesterday, Mom was settled and happy in her new space.

All that is really beside the point of the photo today. In the midst of mayhem and moving, I walked with Mom to Dad’s tree. We had a sycamore tree planted on the grounds. Mom loves going out to visit the tree. It has already grown about 2 feet in three months. It’s not even close to the height of the surrounding pines, but there is something serene and strong about it.

Have you ever planted a memorial tree?

Sycamore Tree in memory of John Gibson, 11/11/33-4/22/22
Summerhouse Beaux Ridge Independent Living

In the face of storms and sun,
you stand, grow, reach
for the heavenly space
where God is good.

Margaret Simon, draft

Poetry Friday is with Mary Lee at A(nother) Year of Reading.
Sloth video from my phone. Turn sound down or off. The guide explains the different kinds of sloths near the end. This is a two-toed sloth.

Slow Sloth

I am to you
scribbles of God.
My two toes
touch the heavens 
on leaves like tea
left behind for someone to read,
a lie between sun and moon.
I am blind to you.
As I slowly pass through
parting seas of green,
only the fruit follows me.
I know heaven is green
as all sorrow in amorphous shape.
I neglect symbols,
and drink from mud.
I stop and sleep
because you are always there.

Margaret Simon, 2022

I wrote this poem after Swift Hummingbird by Ray Bradbury. On Ethical ELA, Jennifer Guyor Jowett introduced antonymic translation in this week’s Open Write. Ray Bradbury wrote of the hummingbird which immediately made me think of the sloth we saw in Costa Rica last week. It was fun to write a poem about it.

Two-Toed Sloth, Wikimedia Commons

Molly Hogan, fellow Inkling, sent me a Summer Poem Swap. Her tranquil poem sent me the blessing I needed along with some homemade (by Molly) strawberry jam and other goodies. Thanks, Molly, for the full-of-care package.

This week is Ethical ELA’s Open Write. If you haven’t tried it out, you should. The prompts are good and the community is supportive. It’s a great place to try on a poem.

On my morning walk earlier this week after a rain, I saw the reflection of the clouds in puddles. I thought it would make a good photo prompt. And then over at Ethical ELA, I used Jennifer’s prompt to write about this photo. Today I share both with you. I hope you find inspiration here. Write your own small poem in the comments and support other writers with comments.

Puddle reflection by Margaret Simon

Summer Morning

I walk after the rain soaked
grass to cool green, steam rising.
I walk in the air soaked
in sweat of summer.

I remember the bobwhite singing
in the pine forest beyond Purple Creek.
I remember building forts, skipping rocks
singing, “Easy come, easy go, little high, little low.”

I see reflection of sky
in asphalt puddles. I am
a reflection of that child,
dancing through puddles,
watching clouds roll by.

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.

Last week, my husband and I traveled to Costa Rica for an amazing week of adventures. Generally speaking, I have a fear of snakes that goes back to my childhood living near a creek in Mississippi. Through the years living near the Bayou Teche, I’ve come to appreciate that there are good snakes and bad snakes. That is to say, venomous and nonvenomous, as my naturalist friend corrects me.

While in Costa Rica, we took a fearful walk through the rainforest. It was frightening on many levels, the highest one being that we walked over numerous hanging bridges while rain poured down and thunder rolled in the distance. I did not feel safe. I took it slowly while our guide did not. She rushed us along, thus leaving me and a few other slowpokes behind.

At one point in our rainforest trek, the guide stopped us all to point out a small yellow flower. Yet it was not an exotic flower; it was a venomous snake known as the eyelash viper. I had hoped to see a poison dart frog, but this snake was not on my “want to see” list. I did not take the picture. I stood at a safe distance. The guide took the photo with someone’s iphone and we later airdropped it to everyone.

Eyelash viper, rainforest of Costa Rica

A Google fact search turned up this frightening fact: “Since they can be bold shades of green and yellow, they’ve accidentally been transported to other countries with exported bananas.” Yikes! Can you imagine finding this in your bananas?

Now I am home and on my morning walk, I nearly stepped on this little guy.

Innocent ribbon snake, New Iberia, Louisiana

This small striped ribbon snake is more my speed when it comes to accepting that there are snakes in this world. He’s actually kinda cute, don’t you think? And totally harmless.