I first heard this poem a couple of years ago and late last year, I got myself a new book for my Poetry Library (Happy Birthday to ME!) and I was happily surprised to find it there as well.
This poem is for teachers everywhere, who teach all the amazing things every single day.
What You Missed That Day You Were Absent From Fourth Grade
by Brad Aaron Modlin
Mrs. Nelson explained how to stand still and listen
to the wind, how to find meaning in pumping gas,
how peeling potatoes can be a form of prayer. She took
questions on how not to feel lost in the dark
After lunch she distributed worksheets
that covered ways to remember your grandfather’s
voice. Then the class discussed falling asleep
without feeling you have forgotten to do something else —
something important — and how to believe
the house you wake in is your home. This prompted
Mrs. Nelson to draw a chalkboard diagram detailing
how to chant the Psalms during cigarette breaks,
and how not to squirm for sound when your own thoughts
are all you hear; also, that you have enough.
The English lesson was that I am
is a complete sentence.
And just before the afternoon bell, she made the math equation
look easy. The one that proves that hundreds of questions,
and feeling cold, and all those nights spent looking
for whatever it was you lost, and one person
add up to something.
From Everyone at This Party Has Two Names by Brad Aaron Modlin. Copyright © 2016 by Brad Aaron Modlin. Originally published by Southeast Missouri State University Press.
We (Bonny, Kym, and myself) would love for you to join us and share a poem that you love!
I will see you all back here on Monday!
It’s the third Thursday of December and that can mean just one thing…it’s the day to share a poem!
December is a month that overflows with poetry for me. Maybe it is the darker mornings, maybe it is the twinkle lights, maybe it is the season… but December finds me steeped in poetry.
I treated myself to two new poetry books this month. I picked up Billy Collins Musical Tables and I had pre-ordered Pádraig Ó Tuama’s Poetry Unbound: 50 Poems to Open Your World, which was released on December 6th.
I am saving the Poetry Unbound volume to read next year… I will read one poem and essay for 50 weeks and I am very much looking forward to this addition to my poetry reading!
However, I have been unable to put down Billy Collins new book of poems! I have read it through twice and I am on my third time through currently. It is so, so good. If you think that poetry is not for you, try Billy Collins… he makes poetry fun, easy to read, but with just enough for you to think about after you have read one of his poems! And if you want to listen to a delightful interview where NPR’s Scott Simon talks with Collins about his new book of poems, you will find it here (it starts at 7:58).
Today, my selection is from Musical Tables with a very appropriate for the season poem.
by Billy Collins
For a moment,
the ox and a sheep
looked over at each other,
then they turned away
and went back
to adoring the Child.
Billy Collins: Musical Tables © 2022. Published by Random House, Penguin Random House LLC
A huge thanks to Bonny for hosting us all today, please stop by and see what poems have been shared! And I would like to encourage you all to pick up a poetry book and read a poem or two… you might even find one that you’d like to share one with us because we’d love to have you join us!
Happy Thursday everyone!
It seems impossible that it is already the third Thursday of the month… and yet it is. And I have a poem to share with you all today (plus one to listen to, if you so desire!) I had originally imagined that I would find something to share from the stack of poetry books on my desk. I am working my way through Ada Limón’s The Hurting Kind – again. And loving it more than the first time I read it! I am also reading a poem or two from Wendell Berry’s The Peach of Wild Things…which for me is Poetry Meditation.
I had a lovely list of poems to choose from, but then I discovered Carter Revard and I then knew that he would be the perfect poet for November. I have listened to this episode of Poetry For All multiple times… Revard’s poem What the Eagle Fan Says is so beautiful. And so I began the search for Carter Revard poetry… I first started here (which has not been updated, Mr. Revard died in January) and I was surprised that so little of his poetry was posted anywhere online.
No worries, because my library has one of his books and I picked it up this week. And so I began reading… beautiful poetry intertwined with equally beautiful stories. He was a Rhodes Scholar and I especially love his poems from his time at Oxford. The poem I am sharing today is from that time period… this is a poem that will linger with me long after I have read it. And though, I have never been to the Isle of Sky, Mr. Revard makes me feel like I have.
October, Isle of Skye
by Carter Revard
Wading up Brunigill’s rush
for a long time is a question
of where to place each boot
on a rock that will hold, advance,
of not slipping on moss-slime’s
green blackness under the swashing
of water past boots—
then eyes raise to a pool
too golden-deep for boots,
and before climbing around it, pause
and stretch and look down through
the amber lucence where
slow gold-lit ripplings touch
white crystals in rockbed,
till a rowan-berry comes bobbing,
red-round and lightly,
to ride through the pool—
then boots go up over sheep-paths
to the heathery ridge and
a bumblebee knee-brushed from
purple paper-firm bells
drops wet and stunned,
chill mist on her wings,
tumbles in browning blossoms
and on her back caught
in the jungle of heather her front legs
rise drowned and waking, hook
slowly a heather-twig, pull
the fur-body up as antennae wag
through green and amber sensing
late pollen, nectar
for bee-bread in burrows—
and light changes dazzling
in downstream mist,
while newlit water
birdshrills and gurgles,
and down again climbing
bootplace by bootplace
to the stream and
its rowanberry raft
by moss-edge of pool—
that from scarlet seed
over amber movement
a green tree may sway.
October, Isle of Skye by Carter Revard from An Eagle Nation, published by The University of Arizona Press © 1993
I want to thank Bonny for providing the space for us to share our poems! And we’d love for you to join us if you have a poem to share…and I hope you do!
See you all back here on Monday!
Poetry is a constant in my day… it is the thing I start my day with – reading a poem or two. And my favorite month of all is Poetry Month which happens every year in April. But one month with a focus on poetry is just not enough and even though occasionally a poem shows up on my blog, it almost feels like an afterthought… The I-don’t-have-anything-to-post-today-so-here’s-a-poem post. And that is kind of sad, because poetry is never just an afterthought. So welcome to:
A Gathering of Poetry
The inspiration behind this idea was a post from Bonny which spurred a flurry of emails from Kym and voilá… every month on the third Thursday, we will be sharing with you all a poem!
This month, my poetry selection is from Ted Kooser. I really love his poems and he is such a prolific poet!
A Dervish of Leaves
by Ted Kooser
Sometimes when I’m sad, the dead leaves
in the bed of my pickup get up on their own
and start dancing. I’ll be driving along,
glance up at the mirror and there they’ll be,
swirling and bowing, their flying skirts
brushing the back window, not putting a hand
on the top of the cab to steady themselves,
but daringly leaning out over the box,
making fun of the fence posts we’re passing
who have never left home, teasing the rocks
rolled away into the ditches, leaves light
in their slippers, dancing around in the back
of my truck, tossing their cares to the wind,
sometimes, when I’m down in my heart.
“A Dervish of Leaves” by Ted Kooser Copyright © 2020
It is our hope that you will be moved to join us on the third Thursday and share a poem!
See you all back here tomorrow!
Oof..these numbers are so troubling. I hope we have reached the tipping point and that change will happen.
In these troubled times I am so thankful for poetry. I read poetry every single day but recently I have spent even more of my day immersed in poetry and one poem keeps calling to me over and over and over. It is a poem by Ada Limón from American Journal Fifty Poems for Our Time.
by Ada Limón
Six horses died in a tractor-trailer fire.
There. That’s the hard part. I wanted
to tell you straight away so we could
grieve together. So many sad things,
that’s just one on a long recent list
that loops and elongates in the chest,
in the diaphragm, in the alveoli. What
is it they say, heartsick or downhearted?
I picture a heart lying down on the floor
of the torso, pulling up the blankets
over its head, thinking this pain will
go on forever (even though it won’t).
The heart is watching Lifetime movies
and wishing, and missing all the good
parts of her that she has forgotten.
The heart is so tired of beating
herself up, she wants to stop it still,
but also she wants the blood to return,
wants to bring in the thrill and wind of the ride,
the fast pull of life driving underneath her.
What the heart wants? The heart wants
her horses back.
“Downhearted,” from Bright Dead Things by Ada Limón (Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions, 2015). © 2015 by Ada Limón.
My heart and I wish for you a good weekend…perhaps with a Lifetime movie or two. See you all back here on Monday.