PF: Glowing Mist Day

downloadThis month, Linda Mitchell was in charge of our monthly Swagger writing challenge. Initially, she’d asked us to create a poem based on a hand-written recipe someone had given us. As last month unfolded, Linda opted to revise the challenge in response to the changing times. She shared the Academy of American Poets new initiative called “Shelter in Poems.” Last month, they invited readers to share a poem from the collection that was helping them at this time, along with an explanation of how it was helping. Linda encouraged us to respond to their prompt and to interpret it as we wished. I’ve chosen to interpret it relatively broadly. In fact, my poem doesn’t even come from the collection.

On the first day that we left school, uncertain if we’d be returning, I grabbed several picture books “just in case.” One of the first ones I grabbed was “I’m in Charge of Celebrations” by Byrd Baylor. It’s a book that I love, but not one that I’ve shared with my classes recently. Grabbing it felt instinctive.

If you don’t know this book, I highly recommend it. It’s a luscious prose poem–a love song to nature and a reminder to choose the lens through which you view the world. In this particular book, the narrator, a child who lives in the desert, shares lyrical descriptions of days/events that have been remarkable to her, and she describes how she turns those memories into lasting celebrations.

Days later, when I was trying to create some online connections with my class, I decided to share part of the book with my students. During such uncertain times, I wanted to encourage them to find moments in their daily lives to celebrate. I wanted to nudge them to get outside and explore and pay attention. To notice and find comfort in the natural beauty that surrounds them. Little did I know that reading this book to them would offer those same comforts to me.

I read the first couple of pages in a video and then invited them to write their own “celebration” poem, using Baylor’s work as a mentor text. As I was recording for them, I realized that I had witnessed just such a moment earlier that day, so I wrote a poem,  Soaring Eagle Day, and shared it with them as another mentor. Then, I was inspired to revisit memories of a summer morning in the marsh and wrote this poem.

Glowing Mist Day
(inspired by Byrd Baylor’s “I’m in Charge of Celebrations”)

Sometimes people ask me
why I get up so early,
why I rise to meet the dawn.
It’s hard to explain,
so instead,
I just tell them about
the Day of Glowing Mist.

That morning
the sun lit the mist
over the marsh
so the air blazed
in undulating waves
of gold and amber,
a glorious light
yet gentle.

A deer slipped from the woods
and another followed
into the marsh,
into the glowing mist.
They raised their heads
and looked
toward the rising sun.

I looked toward the deer
and that moment,
that very moment,
grabbed me by the heart
and squeezed
until joy bubbled
in my veins,
a fomentation of wonder
like the liquid sunrise.

I couldn’t decide whether
to whoop and holler
and crow
with delight
or drop to my knees
and whisper
to the universe,
“Thank you.”

It was that kind of moment.

My heart swelled
with the marsh,
the glowing mist,
the two deer
and the flock of geese.

I don’t think
it’s ever gone back
to its original size.

©Molly Hogan, 2020, draft


the real life inspiration

Apparently visitors to poetry sites have sky rocketed during this time. People are turning to poetry for solace and comfort. I was lucky enough to have Byrd Baylor’s book remind me that nature is full of celebrations if I choose to see them, and it offers me both shelter and inspiration. Remembering this has been a balm and a blessing.

This week Heidi Mordhorst, wordsmith extraordinaire and a fellow Swagger, is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup. She’s sharing her response to Linda’s challenge. If you want to check out what the other Swaggers are doing, click on the links below:

Linda Mitchell, A Word Edgewise
Catherine Flynn, Reading to the Core
Margaret Simon, Reflections on the Teche


30 thoughts on “PF: Glowing Mist Day

  1. What a beautiful poem and picture that inspired by it! When the libraries are open again, I need to check this book out. I love nature and I love poetry. It sounds like it would be a great fit for me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      I love the spirit that infuses her books–the celebration of the wonder in the world that surrounds us. If you look at the post that I linked, there are photos of a couple of pages from the text, so you can get a sneak peek. Take care!


  2. Sally Murphy says:

    Wow. What an image – or should I say a pair of images – the word-picture your poem paints, and the photo itself. I love that you were inspired by the book and that you took up the challenge you set your students so beautifully. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was not familiar with Baylor’s book, so thank you for the introduction. And thank you for your ‘heart swelling’ poem and photo. Beautiful. : )

    Liked by 1 person

  4. cvarsalona says:

    Molly, your photo draws me into a mystical day when the sun moves me to indulge in its beauty. Reading your poem allowed me entrance into your thoughts and joy of the moment: that very moment,
    grabbed me by the heart
    and squeezed
    until joy bubbled
    in my veins,
    Thank you for the experience. Would you be interested in joining my “Nature Nurtures” NPM project and offering an image poem to soothe the soul during this crisis?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I, too, need to find Baylor’s book. I can’t wait to read it and your poem shows us with such lovely images why mornings are so special and not to be missed. I felt such gratitude reading it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. jama says:

    Such a beautiful poem, Molly!! Gorgeous images with such immediacy, and those final lines made me swoon. I always feel like I’ve been given a special gift whenever I spot deer outside my window. I was thinking about Byrd Baylor recently as she just celebrated her 94th birthday (I think).

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Kay Mcgriff says:

    Oh Molly, your poem and the photo that inspired it are gorgeous. I am trying to savor such moments–fortunately since we live by a pond and woods we are surrounded by such moments. I don’t know Baylor’s books, but will look for it once I can return to our library.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. lindabaie says:

    I hope it never goes back, Molly. Your poem equals Byrd Baylor’s words. Her books are long favorites of mine, ones that I kept after giving so many away when I retired. Beautiful poem!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. cweichel says:

    I enjoyed both of your poems Molly. It’s been a very long time since I read I’m in Charge of Celebrations. I wish it was available as an ebook from my library so I could reread it right now!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. rosecappelli says:

    I haven’t read Byrd Baylor’s book in quite a long time. Thanks for the reminder! The images you create in your poem are beautiful. Favorite stanza:
    I looked toward the deer
    and that moment,
    that very moment,
    grabbed me by the heart
    and squeezed
    until joy bubbled
    in my veins,
    a fomentation of wonder
    like the liquid sunrise.
    Thank you so much for sharing your words.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Linda Mitchell says:

    This is SUCH a beautiful poem. All I can think about is that old bumper sticker that states, “nature is my church.” Really, this moment of sunrise and the wonder, sense of appreciation and love…it’s sacred. This might just be my favorite of yours.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Your photo is stunning, Molly, and your poem is a perfect celebration of the magic you’ve captured. I love those “undulating waves/of gold and amber/a glorious light.” Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. “until joy bubbled
    in my veins,
    a fomentation of wonder
    like the liquid sunrise.”

    So exactly that moment and may we feel it each day despite it all! And I love to read about the way you are connecting with your students through small celebrations, and how we, humans, need poetry right now. Thanks for this.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Oh, that stanza that starts “I couldn’t decide…” Perfect. Thanks, Molly!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. This is not the first time you’ve introduced me to wonderful resources, Molly. Thank you for that. I LOVE your poem!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. maryleehahn says:

    I’m planning to sneak back into my classroom later today to grab some word games. I will have to grab Byrd Baylor, too! I love that book and your poem is so perfect! You captured the tone and pacing perfectly!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. haitiruth says:

    I love the “liquid sunrise.” And I smiled at the description of you grabbing things to take home, because I’ve been in that place several times when leaving my classroom. After the Haiti earthquake (and I didn’t come back for six months), when leaving for one political lockdown or another, and yes, this time too. It’s so hard to know what you’ll need to take with you, and whatever you take, you’ll wish for something else. But it sounds like this book was a great one to grab! Wishing you much success in your online teaching. ❤ Ruth,

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Liz Steinglass says:

    This is so lovely. I especially love the ending and the idea that the moment was more than fleeting.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Molly of Celebration Days, hello there. I love both your poems – here and at the linked page, inspired by this book, which sounds like a lifelong companion to page through always.
    Appreciations for your tending to the imaginations of young souls.

    And such a double eagle moment you had!
    Your witness to it spreads Light.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Linda KulpTrout says:

    I love Byrd Baylor’s books and used them often when I taught elementary students. I love all the beautiful, peaceful images in your poem!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s