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Archive for March, 2018

Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life March Challenge

Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

 

Holy Week always brings up for me a mixture of feelings.  I feel a call to silent contemplation.  Years ago I offered a Good Friday meditation.  It originally came out of a prayer vigil from Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday.  I had signed up for the 6 AM time slot and was moved by the rising of the sun as I sat alone in the quiet church.  We don’t have a vigil anymore, but the idea of sitting in quiet meditation early in the morning of Good Friday is still something I want to experience and share.

With four of us in the sanctuary, I read aloud Mary Oliver’s poem “I Happened to be Standing.”  Mary Oliver is a favorite poet of mine.  I love how simple and profound her poems are.  I searched for this one.  I remembered how it looked on the page, but I didn’t remember the title or which book it was published in.  I located five of her books around my home, none of them placed together.  Finally, A Thousand Mornings sang to me from the living room shelf, and there it was in all its humble glory.

I Happened to Be Standing

I don't know where prayers go,
     or what they do.
Do cats pray, while they sleep
     half-asleep in the sun?
Does the opossum pray as it
     crosses the street?
The sunflowers? The old black oak
     growing older every year?
I know I can walk through the world,
     along the shore or under the trees,
with my mind filled with things
     of little importance, in full
self-attendance. A condition I can't really
     call being alive
Is a prayer a gift, or a petition,
     or does it matter?
(Read and listen to the complete poem here.)

 

As I sat, I recalled Psalm 22 from the Maundy Thursday stripping of the altar. I wanted to respond to this psalm with my own psalm. I wrote:

Deus, Deus meus

My God, my God, why have you forgiven me?
The toll of the cardinal song
echoes You are my child.

Long ago, I carried a child in my own womb
felt her heart beat with mine,
felt the soft body roll inside.

Is this how you love me, God?

I held the hand of his father
as he passed into your light.
I let go of his quiet strength.

Is this how you love me, God?

When I think on these things,
I can know kindness.
I can hear stillness in the noise.
I can feel love in the bird’s song.

When you are near me, God,
My soul lives for you.

–Margaret Simon (c) 2018

Happy, Happy Easter! May you find joy in the quiet and love in the sounds of the birds!

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Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life March Challenge

 

Poetry Friday round-up is with Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe.

 

National Poetry Month is upon us.  Is it really April already?  I absolutely love the month of April.  It’s so fragrant and beautiful.  My middle daughter was born in April.  And April is all about poetry!

Join me and many others at Poetry Friday for daily doses of poetry.  My plan this year is to write ekphrastic poetry, poetry about art.  We did this in February for Laura Shovan’s birthday month challenge.  I love art.  Art often gives me an entry point into a poem that I may not have written otherwise.  I find art digs deep into my soul.

As a warm-up, I captured a photograph from Ralph Fletcher’s Facebook Photography page.  You may recognize Ralph from his work with literacy for children in books like What a Writer Needs, Joy Write, and many more resources for teachers.

Ralph has become quite an amazing photographer and especially of birds.  I was attracted to this amazing photo of a hummingbird by the name of Anna’s hummingbird.

Anna’s Hummingbird

Fierce in a hot pink boa,
this perfection of nature
dominates beauty
with feathers of lace,
a flying, glimmering gemstone.
–Margaret Simon (c) 2018

 

 

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Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life March Challenge

On Sunday, my husband rescued me from one of my greatest fears, a snake in the house.  Little did I know while I was at choir practice, a ribbon snake was dancing in my laundry room.  After church Jeff told me how he came upon the small snake while putting the sheets in the wash.  He threw the pile of sheets onto the snake and took it all outside, shaking the snake out into its natural world.

I said a prayer of thanks that I was not at home.  Snakes freak me out.  They always have.  I can’t even look at a picture of a snake without cringing.

Fast forward a few days and I was outside walking my dog Charlie.  I sent my husband this text.

Yes, I had stepped right next to a snake in the grass, jumped, screamed, and ran.  I did also lose bladder control.  Yikes!

When I calmed down, I googled common Louisiana yard snakes and found the speckled king snake.  These are good snakes, if there is such a thing.  They are nonvenomous and eat other snakes, including venomous ones.  Good thing I left him in my dust.

Later I received a response from Jeff.  He usually keeps reports of snake sightings to himself, protecting me.

Nevertheless, I am putting off any yard work.  I think I’ll leave the snake handling to my brave husband.

 

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Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life March Challenge

 

Mindfulness at the breakfast table…

Coddiwomple came up on Facebook as the word of the day from Writers Write.  It means to travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination. I took a coddiwomple through slices and gathered lines.  I tried to put them into some sort of order that would make a poem.

I do not want to be a pencil.
I want to be a book,
corners creased, cover softened.
It would be full of white space,
held like a small silver envelope.

Simple mindfulness at the breakfast table.
My nest needs to be wide
in a Jamun tree that bears fruit
This is the time to spread my wings.
The story continues…

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Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life March Challenge

I started an art journal in January (a slice about it here) and decided to select a color for each month (March is yellow) and to collage a heart map for each month.  Yesterday with some free spring break time I completed my heart map for March.

Perusing magazines is part of the fun.  Cutting and pasting can be creative, relaxing work.  This map captures snippets of March including Slice of Life blogging, our Plein Air guest artists, and Saturday’s march.  Some messages are hidden, like the popping out sticky note “South Louisiana.”  It’s hiding the title of my forthcoming poetry book.  Still working on proofs.  Cover reveal coming soon!

On Twitter, Leigh Anne posted this:

My table was not as covered as hers, but I took a few snippets for a quick poem in my art journal.

I’m still working with the line The Shadow Defines the Light.  I’m trying it out in different poems.  Sometimes you just find a great line.  Copy, paste, make it yours.

 

 

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Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life March Challenge

How can you resist a child who says, “I can perform my poem!”

She stood in the front of the room with no inhibitions.  She read her poem with expression.  She filled my teacher heart.

I’ve played the video over and over.  I smile every time.  This child, so full of joy and love and life, wrote a poem.  All she needed was “so much depends upon” then off she went on a ride of rhymes.

So much depends
upon this little girl.
This little girl is so cute.
She puts the TV on mute.
She plays the flute
all the time.
I am a rhyme mime.

by Kaia, 2nd grade

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Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life March Challenge

Yesterday I joined March for our Lives in Lafayette, LA. It did not even come close to the numbers marching in other places. I would estimate 200 or so people. The message was clear, and the march was a peaceful walk around the park. We chatted with people we knew. We cheered for the kids who bravely stood and spoke on stage.

On the advice of fellow slicer, Elisabeth Ellington, I listened to an On Being podcast with Naomi Shihab Nye. She suggests writing three lines every day. The three lines I wrote in my notebook yesterday:

The violence of our times is unacceptable.
My faith tells me that the answer is love.
Not everyone is going to accept me. I need to accept this.

As I watched the video of kids speaking in DC and beyond, Emma Gonzales, Naomi Wadler, and Georgia VanDerwater, I was moved to tears. How could I be afraid when these kids were so brave?

As a teacher, I am afraid to stay quiet. I cannot stand by and watch young children frisked with a metal detector. I cannot stand by and accept teachers being armed. These actions are band-aids to a problem our politicians are afraid to address, gun regulations and the lack of mental health care.

Band-aids are being placed on a broken system, a system with empty counselors’ offices, a system without adequate response to children in trauma, a system stripped of the arts. Long term solutions are available if we are only willing to fight for them.

I will carry a sign. I will not carry a gun.

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