Sunflower acrostic

Happy National Poetry Month!

At Ethical ELA, Bryan Ripley Crandall kicks off VerseLove by inviting teacher-poets to compose acrostics: “Think of your  person, place, or phrase. Lay the letters onto the page as if fallen leaves. Game-on. Write as if you are ‘gifting’ to another, and use each letter to craft an original poem.”

I love acrostics and have long believed this ancient form is underused.

As I pondered a topic, I went to the refrigerator door to start breakfast, and there it was:

The Drawing My Granddaughter Made During a “Sleepover”

Six years old, blissfully
Unaware that it’s the emblem of a 
Nation being invaded, she announces:
Franna, I am making this for you.
Love crayoned on the paper as
Our own special symbol.
When night falls, we put on our pink pajamas
Emblazoned with these light-seeking faces
Radiating joy of now, promise for tomorrow.

She texts me in the evenings sometimes to be sure I am wearing my sunflower pajamas

Flower pajamas

Evening, near eight o’clock.

My phone vibrates.

A text from my son.

No, wait… from my granddaughter, age six.

She types her name with a colon so I know who’s sending the message.

Scout: are you wearing your flower PJ’s?

(Backstory: She stayed with me on the night her baby sister Micah was born. I got us matching pajamas as part of our celebration).

(Me) Hi, Scouty ❤ ❤ No, I am wearing my cardinal nightgown and leggings and housecoat because I am cold!

Scout: cuz I am wearing my flower pjs….

(Me) Aww. I will go put mine on.

Scout: OKAY [with sunflower emoji]

(Me) Love you, Scoutaroni

Scout: Love you too good night ❤ ❤

(Me) Good night! [many heart emojis]

—It is a very good night. ❤

Franna loves you, sunflower girl

*******

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

Green

Haiku in Honor of My Six-Year-Old Granddaughter
Whose Favorite Color Is Green

Riding in the car
I muse aloud: Look how green
the fields are today.

From the carseat: Yes.
Greenest green I’ve ever seen.
—Children are poets.

Photo: The sunset of the green field. Bardia Photography. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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with thanks to Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life Story Challenge every day in the month of March. This is my sixth year participating.

Nothing shakes the smiling heart

Nothing shakes the smiling heart.—Santosh Kalwar

a pantoum

Nothing shakes the smiling heart
not loss, not fear, not pain
the heart-smile shines ever bright
even in the rain

Not loss, not fear, not pain
despite tales of gloom and doom
even in the rain
the smiling heart does not consume

Despite tales of gloom and doom
it needs no teeth, for
the smiling heart does not consume
while beating its joyful tune

It needs no teeth, for
the heart-smile shines ever bright
while beating its joyful tune
—nothing shakes the smiling heart.

with thanks to Ruth at SOS-Sharing Our Stories: Magic in a Blog for the Kalwar quote along with the invitation to consider a smile and write about it. Note that in addition to the usual definitions of ingesting, buying, using, etc., “consume” can also mean “perish.”

A reader is born

She heard the same voice
before she ever arrived,
reading and reading

her big sister’s voice,
kindergarten booklover,
reading and reading

see how she listens
and looks toward the pages
—a reader is born.

My granddaughters: Scout, age six, reading Bible stories to Micah, age three months

At 100 years old…

If you are in kindergarten or first grade, the 100th day of school is a big deal.

You get to count a hundred beads or macaroni or sundry items.

You get to dress up as an old person.

You get to imagine what you would do at 100 years old.

Such as my kindergarten granddaughter did:

Check out the old-lady perm

“Always fun going through this kid’s backpack,” says her mom.

*******

with thanks to Two Writing Teachers for the weekly Slice of Life Story Writing Challenge.
At 100 years old, I will still be writing.
And not perming my hair.

Reflecting on wonder

“The beginning of our happiness lies in the understanding that life without wonder is not worth living.” -Abraham Joshua Heschel
Epigraph in Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders
(Foer, Thuras, & Morton).

On the first week back to school after the holidays, I spent time covering classes and duties for colleagues who are out due to COVID protocols. I arrived on campus each day not knowing what I’d be called on to do. This has been the pattern for the whole school year thus far, in fact, and it may continue until June…

But I am not going to focus on the intensified daily juggling act.

I will concentrate on the unexpected moments of light…such as when a colleague told me that my iPhone could understand spoken Harry Potter spells.

This I had to see for myself.

Hey, Siri: Lumos...and my flashlight came on. (Lumos is the spell that makes wands and lamps light up in the books in and movies, for those who don’t know).

Hey, Siri: Nox…and my flashlight turned off.

Hey, Siri: Accio Twitter…and my Twitter app opened up in my phone.

Tell me this is not a great wonder, technology.

Furthermore, the knowledge came in handy when I filled in for quarantined teachers in upper grades. I demonstrated the “magic” and wowed the kids.

That’s the thing about wonders…you want to share them. Wonders are not meant to be contained. They are contagious. They are forever beckoning and burgeoning.

So maybe the magic of Siri understanding Harry Potter is a small thing.

Maybe a greater wonder is finding the right book to inspire a reluctant reader. This past week it was not Harry Potter but books about children with physical limitations and differences who face extreme challenges. Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. And, of course, Wonder by R.J. Palacio. They grip you from the start…

I pause to reflect here on all the wonder wrought by books in my own life. I feel the covers tingling with magic whenever I pick them up (maybe it’s just my anticipation).

Last week I watched the wonder on kids’ faces as they learned how a prism or raindrop separates light into colors. I watched in wonder as two students known for behavior issues stayed on task to complete their assignments when they were allowed to work together.

I thought, randomly, about the fireworks that went off in the distance on New Year’s Eve. My six-year-old granddaughter was spending the night. My husband and I allowed her to stay up. She heard the booming of the fireworks at midnight and wanted to see them. We went out on the back deck, but fog and trees obscured our view.

I’ve never gotten to see fireworks, said my granddaughter.

One day you will, I told her.

I like the sound of them. It makes me feel calm.

That filled me with wonder…I have never heard anyone express that about the sound of fireworks. Least of all a child.

Maybe the calmness has not so much to do with the sound but the place and the sense of safety…these are linked in their way to wonder. The unexpected, the new, a bit of uncertainty but also an embracing. The opening Heschel quote encapsulates it well: The beginning of our happiness lies in the understanding that life without wonder is not worth living.

Like a bright, beckoning burst suddenly illuminating a moment, a mind, a spirit.

Do you remember spending last New Year’s Eve with us, too? my husband asked our granddaughter.

Oh yeah! Can I stay here next year, too? And the one after that?

Sure you can! You can stay every New Year’s Eve if you want.

Even when I am fifty-nine?

Yes, even when you are fifty-nine.

Wonders upon wonders await.

Of this, I am sure.

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with thanks to Two Writing Teachers for the Tuesday Slice of Life Story Challenge and the wondrous community of writers.

Contemplation

six going on sixteen
that’s how you look to me, girl,
making my days bright and evergreen
with your unique window on the world

that’s how you look to me, girl,
pondering deepest thoughts
with your unique window on the world
piercing the depths of my heart

pondering deepest thoughts
like what would life be without you
piercing the depths of my heart
where I will keep you always

what would life be without you
making my days bright and evergreen
I would keep you always
six going on sixteen