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Archive for the ‘Gratitude’ Category

Happy September! Maureen has the Spiritual Thursday round up today. Her topic suggestion was “community.” As a new school year gets underway, my thoughts of community turn to my classroom. To build community, we write together. I’ve always felt that writing helps build connections and brings us closer to each other.

When my father died in April, I received so many cards that I couldn’t fit them all on my counter, so I filled a basket. Like Christmas, every day for a few weeks I received handwritten, comforting cards and letters. Without even noticing, I had become a part of a community of people who support each other in good times and in bad times.

This weekend there was an article in the local paper that caught my eye. It was an interview with a teacher I knew. This teacher came to a writing workshop I held one summer. Because we wrote together, I feel close to her. I cut out the article and laminated it to send to her. She probably has multiple copies, but I decided that the gesture was about more than just giving her another copy of the article. It was a gesture of community, recognizing and seeing her.

My writing group is a special community to me. The Inklings got together and created a “junk journal” with each poet writing a special sympathy poem for me. I made a video of this gift that can be viewed here. Linda Mitchell of our group recently shared a new poem with us. She wrote it about the sycamore tree that we planted in memory of my dad on the grounds of their retirement home. “A sycamore tree symbolizes strength, protection, eternity, and divinity.” She gave me permission to share her sweet skinny poem.

Whether writing with each other or writing for each other, writing creates community. If you are interested in joining a small community of writers, tune in on Wednesdays when I post “This Photo Wants to be a Poem.” We write together in separate places about a shared image. There is always room for more.

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Today’s Poetry Friday Round up is with Dave at Leap of Dave.

Today was the first Poetry Friday of the new school year. Prompted by Kim Johnson who is writing daily to Dictionary for a Better World, I decided to begin at the beginning with the word Acceptance. Irene Latham wrote the model poem we read today. I have to admit starting with such a metaphor-driven poem was challenging. “I am a word with teeth– a crocodile” At first my students thought the poem was all about a crocodile. We had to work hard to make the connection between the title and the illustration.

From Dictionary for a Better World by Irene Latham and Charles Waters.

When it came time to write, I suggested using Irene’s form for an opening line. I am a word with ______. Adelyn chose the word Art. I adore what she wrote for her first poem of 4th grade gifted class.

 ART 

I am a word with imagination

A rainbow over my head

Some understand me, some don’t

Yet I don’t wait for supplies I improvise

I rest in a messy room

Full of markers, crayons and sketch books

As I dream of a

peacock flying overhead

by Adelyn, 4th grade

I am happy to be writing poems with kids again!

Here is my poem after Irene on the word Gracious:

Gracious

I am a word with wings–
a butterfly
landing on a red blossom.

Some want to catch me.
Others let me be.

Yet I do not waste time (as you do)
in the muddy banks
between despair

and hope.
I rest in freedom–
air, wind–
lightly lifting

as nectar fills my soul
with sweet gratitude.

Margaret Simon, draft, after Irene Latham

Consider joining me with my friends over at Ethical ELA for this weekend’s Open Write starting tomorrow through Wednesday.

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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.

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

Two months ago today, I took my mother to see my father in the hospital for the last time. He was not responsive. She held his head and kissed it over and over saying, “I love you.” He died the next morning.

I never heard my parents say “I love you” to each other. My father told me he believed that if you said it often, it would lose its meaning. Ten years ago, after he had colon surgery, I vowed to tell them both I love you every time I talked to them on the phone. Mom would respond, “hmm hmm.” Dad would say something like, “me, too.” Over Covid isolation, they finally said an audible “I love you.”

But this doesn’t mean they didn’t love us or each other.

Yesterday in the dining hall of the retirement home, a resident said she’d never seen such a loving family. She said we cradled my mother. I said, “I wish I could cradle her every day.”

Alzheimer’s is trying to take my mother away from us. She knows Dad died. She knows we planted a tree in his memory. She visits it every day. However, when we took her across the hall to look at a one bedroom apartment for her to move into, she said, “Is Dad moving, too?” I hugged her and said, “No, he’s gone. But he’s in your heart.”

My brother said, “Taking up less space.” We laughed. That’s something Dad would say. He loved irony.

Then Mom said, “You suppose I could find another man?” More laughter.

Mom at the Columbarium visiting Dad on Father’s Day.

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Poetry Friday is hosted this week by Michelle Kogan

Honestly, I’m not sure 
if I’ll be home soon. 
I’m glad you were able to see me.
I love how you hear a different story from my eyes,

how we find honesty under the moon– 
a strawberry moon
rising–
like a beacon through the trees. 

You read me with an elder’s wisdom.
Tears well up when you hold my heart with your eyes,
how they flow with knowing.
Your own tears leaking onto your cheek. 

You never even met my father,
but he was speaking through you,
his presence nowhere and everywhere. 

Honestly, the well of deep compassion 
grows when watered with our tears. 

Margaret Simon, for Carolyn

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Welcome back to This Photo Wants to be a Poem. I am finally in full summer mode and able to dedicate time each day to my writing. Whew!

Today’s photo appeared in my Facebook feed from Molly Hogan. I keep telling her I want photography lessons, but she just tells me it’s luck. Luck or persistence? Molly has a steady hand and an eye for beauty.

Dandelion Seed, by Molly Hogan

Hope is the thing

with seeds to blow
beyond our thoughts
and what we know.

Hope drifts on waves of air.

Margaret Simon, draft

You are invited to respond to this photo with a small poem. Write encouraging comments to others. I feel such a sense of peaceful joy to be back here with you.

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This week was the first week of Simon Summer Camp with the visit of Thomas, better known as Tuffy. We have had a wealth of experiences each day. How do you build memories for a 2.9 year old? Why, you sing about it, of course. Tuffy and I have been singing along to the brilliant and everlasting Raffi. (If you’re a grandmother, you must download his songs.)

I haven’t had much time to spend alone writing poetry, but that’s as it should be. I missed posting yesterday on actual Friday. His mother is back from her “trip.” The song we sang together to tell her about his camp week is sung to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know it.” When I sang it to him last night at bed time, he cuddled up on my shoulder, and I looked at my daughter and whispered, “I think I’m going to cry.” He popped his head right up and said, “Don’t cry, Mamère!” Then we all laughed and laughed. Pure Joy!

Uncle Ric fixed your tires, so you could stroll.
Svitlana gave you vegetables to grow.
CeCe watered flowers and plants in her yard,
And Mr. Al waved good-bye.

KiKi showed you sculptures you could touch.
She told you all about them, oh so much.
Sophie made quesadilla out of play dough,
And Rylee chased water rainbows.

Mamère and Tuffy, Summer Camp Song 2022

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Ramona has the Round up today at Pleasures from the Page.

Life has been a challenge for many these days. I’ve adopted the mantra “We Can Do Hard Things” from Glennon Doyle. Because we can, and we do. But today, Ramona suggests we reflect on celebrations. I have a list that includes celebrations big and small.

  1. A family wedding! It’s always joyful to spend time with family. Our family (including all my children and grands) gathered in Seattle, Washington a few weeks ago for the wedding of my niece. The setting was on the Puget Sound facing the Olympic Mountains at sunset. Six days later my sister-in-law brought me to a beach nearby the wedding location as I recovered from Covid. I celebrate beauty, beach, fresh air, and family love!

2. Flowers are blooming! My friend and former student Jennifer and her husband grow fields of sunflowers and hold “You Pick” days. (Petite Anse Farm) I took my grandson Thomas “Tuffy” on Sunday morning (This was our church service) and picked a bucket of sunflowers. Thomas enjoyed having his own pair of scissors and feeding the chickens with Farmer Andy. I celebrate summer, flowers, and farmers who adore curious toddlers.

3. I was absent the last week of school. My colleague next door, Erica, packed up all the books on my shelves (I have a lot of books!) to prepare for summer cleaning. I went to check on things on Monday and was met with this amazing surprise. Also my principal’s daughter, who is 10 going on 11, was there to help with “Tuffy” while I did a few more things. I celebrate the kindness and consideration of colleagues and teaching in a school with this welcoming environment.

4. My friend and unofficial spiritual director Ellen sends me daily quotes. I am amazed how many times the quote she sends hits the exact right spot. Last week when I was recovering she sent me this list. Just what I needed. I celebrate the spiritual guidance of others who give us strength when we need it.

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Today’s Spiritual Thursday Round-up is with Susan Koehler.

You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best you have to give.

–Eleanor Roosevelt

This month’s spiritual journey topic is from Susan Koehler, abundance. At this time in my grief, I’m aware of the abundance of people who care about me. I have received cards and flowers, texts and messages of love and support. These expressions are good, well-meaning, thoughtful yet sometimes difficult to accept. I’m much more comfortable on the giving end rather than receiving.

Susan offers a poem on her post today, one that can be used as a mentor text. This kind of exercise often helps me say what I mean to say without having to decide on the form. Last week during #verselove on Ethical ELA, Jessica Wiley offered a mentor text by Eloise Greenfield titled By Myself.

I worked through this prompt a few times and would like to share this draft today.

By Myself
after Eloise Greenfield

When I’m by myself
and I close my eyes,
I’m a running river
everchanging, yet steady in its way to go.
I’m a scent of yellow.
I’m a half-filled cup of tea.
I like to sit alone with me.
I grip myself in
I’m a string of violin,
time unfolding, worth gentle holding.
I’m a space for filling up again.
I open my eyes,
and find myself in me.

Margaret Simon, draft
Sunrise walk, by Margaret Simon

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A flower blossoms for its own joy.

Oscar Wilde

My Joy, a photo poem

My joy blossoms in white bridal wreath
greeting my on my driveway.

My joy blossoms in a pottery cup
steaming with a latte.

My joy blossoms with Stella’s sweet voice
saying “E-O!”

Leo and Stella, photo by Maggie Simon LeBlanc

My joy blossoms with windchimes echoing
bird songs, Ta-tweet-ting, Ta-tweet-ting.

My joy blossoms on a blank notebook page
writing alongside my students.

My joy blossoms when you smile.

National Poetry Month Kidlit Progressive Poem is with Donna today at Mainely Write.

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