A day in May

It is the season
of newness
of flowering
of fresh color
of cloudless sky
so blue it hurts

it is the season
of grass
of earth
of birth
of birds
of Eastertide hatchlings
leaving nests
to wing their way
through the world

it is the season
of contemplation
of existence
of life
of purpose
of time
not standing still
and therefore being
infinitely
piercingly
precious

Micah contemplates pink sorrel and a piece of pine straw

Gogyohka poem (on joy)

For VerseLove today at Ethical ELA, Stacey L. Joy introduces the Gogyohka form. Stacey writes: “The Gogyohka is a form of verse developed by poet Enta Kusakabe in 1957. The idea behind the Gogyohka was to take the traditional form of Tanka poetry (which is written in five lines with 5-7-5-7-7 syllable counts) and liberate its structure, creating a freer form of verse. In the 1990s, Kusakabe began his efforts to spread Gogyohka as a new movement in poetry, and there are now around half a million people writing this form of verse in Japan.” Stacey invites teacher-poets to write a five-line free form poem on joy or liberation, or as many Gogyohka poems as we want.

As I pondered the many things that bring me joy and a sense of liberation, the song “Ode to Joy” came to mind. I went with it. The song title and the last verse comprise the last lines of each Gogyohka:

Call to Joy and Liberation

Listen
it is there
in feathered new-morning stirrings
before the sun’s rising
ode to joy

Believe
it is there
the golden key of redemption turning
in the locked human heart
ever singing, march we onward
 
Look
it is there
illuminating the faces of generations
clasping their grandchildren
victors in the midst of strife
 
Dig
it is still there
the uninhibited dance of childhood
a wellspring pure and free as birdsong
joyful music leads us sunward
 
Create
and it is there
a record of your existence
your own vital contribution 
in the triumph song of life

Joy

Story love

My family loves to tell stories.

Mostly on each other.

At every gathering, my husband and our two sons continually try to one-up each other with their own versions of stories, all of which are calculated for maximum comic effect followed by boisterous laughter.

My granddaughter Scout, age six, is used to this now. She smiles, shakes her head, sometimes smacks her forehead with her palm, and sighs: “C’mon, Franna, let’s play.” She doesn’t have to ask me twice…

Micah, five months old as of today, is just beginning to take notice of conversations by shifting her gaze from speaker to speaker. She’s probably wondering the baby version of These are my people??

It so happened at a recent family gathering that as I was telling a funny story about Grandpa, I noticed little Micah, sitting with her dad on the couch, watching me with rapt attention.

I paused. “Goodness,” I said, “look how Micah is listening!”

“Oh yes,” said my daughter-in-law, “she loves a story.”

I had a sense, then, of something meaningful in the making. Something of great significance. Something being recorded deep in Micah’s baby brain, before she even has words for it, long before images and moments become archivable memories. She may not understand quite yet that I am Franna, her grandmother; she hasn’t yet learned words and attached meanings; but she could tell by the cadence of my voice that I was communicating something. She watched me intently, absorbing it.

It made me mindful.

It also reminded me of her dad’s little brother, who, before birth, stopped moving around whenever the piano was played at church. He’d kick back up afterward. He’s listening to the music, I told his dad at the time.

And he was. He’s our musician-mortician son. He’s loved music all of his life and can play anything he wants on the piano and guitar. Without sheet music. The patterns and chords are all in his brain.

Which brings me back to his baby niece, who bears a strong resemblance to him in many ways, especially in this serious manner of absorbing of things.

Micah loves music, too; we’ll see how that plays out…

What I know for certain is that, at five months, she loves story before she knows what story is.

I predict she’ll be the greatest storyteller of us all.

Micah with her preacher dad, my oldest son, while he works

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with thanks to Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life Story Challenge every day in the month of March

When you first laughed

a pantoum for Micah, age 5 months

When you first laughed
your family stood
surrounding you
oh how sweet the sound

Your family stood
filled with awe
oh how sweet the sound
of happy forevers beginning

Filled with awe
we are your cloud of witnesses
of happy forevers beginning
on the last day of your first winter

We are your cloud of witnesses
surrounding you
on the last day of your first winter
when you first laughed

Micah, here are your first laughs, captured on video. Your mom, dad, big sister, Grandpa, and I were all there to see it. Notice that the word “Happy” is on your onesie. I hope you know, someday, how much happiness you’ve brought to all of us. This actually occurred on the last day of winter. Your first spring has begun. A whole lifetime of love, blossoming…

You are a joy, sweet Micah-roon.

Love you forever.

—Franna

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with thanks to Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life Story Challenge every day in the month of March

First time keeping

an epistolary pantoum, to mark the occasion

Dearest Micah:
I write these lines
while you’re sleeping,
first time in my keeping.

I write these lines
having rocked you to sleep,
first time in my keeping,
listening to you breathing.

Having rocked you to sleep,
these moments, ever sweet,
listening to you breathing
—I am complete.

These moments, ever sweet
while you’re sleeping.
I am complete,
dearest Micah.

My precious Micah, 4 mos. 3/7/2022. #FrannaMagic

*******
with thanks to Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life Story Challenge every day in the month of March.


To write a pantoum, use this line sequence:
1234 2546 5768 7381

Always remember

a bit of palindrome written to a picture worth much more than a thousand words,
maybe even a thousand infinities, to me

Always
remember how much you’re loved
my child
and child of
my child
remember how much you’re loved
always.

My oldest son and his baby girl, Micah.
He named her. Micah means “Who is like God?”
Answer: No one, no one, no one…


But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s childrenPsalm 103:17

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with thanks to Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life Story Challenge every day in the month of March.