PF: The Thing Is…

This month Mary Lee challenged the Inklings to write using Ellen Bass’s poem “The Thing Is” as a mentor poem. She said, “Keep the title, but choose a theme/message either from your own life or from current events.”

Well, March is always a busy month for me and this year was no exception. I participated in the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life challenge, finished up second trimester report cards, and had Parent-Teacher conferences. Plus, I lost an hour of time to Daylight Savings! (Which I’m still a bit peeved about!) In other words, I didn’t get to play around with this prompt as much as I would have liked. The Thing is…there is never enough time!

In a serendipitous moment, though, someone recently shared Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem, “The Art of Disappearing.” I wrote down one line to consider using as a strike line in a golden shovel poem: “You’re trying to remember something too important to forget.” Then I thought why not try it with the challenge?

The Thing Is…

you wake to morning like you’re
emerging from a desert, trying
to make your way to
the oasis to drink, to guzzle, to remember,
to relive water cooling your parched throat or something
soothing your raw, cracked lips. Too
thirsty to stay still. It isn’t important
how early it is –or how late– what matters is to
rise. Drink deep. Write. So you don’t forget.

©Molly Hogan, draft
strike line from Naomi Shihab Nye’s “The Art of Disappearing”

If you want to check out the other Inklings’ responses to Mary Lee’s challenge, click on their links:

Linda Mitchell
Margaret Simon
Catherine Flynn
Heidi Mordhorst
MaryLee Hahn

This week Heidi is also hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup at My Juicy Little Universe. She’s sharing her response to Mary Lee’s challenge along with a dazzling array of good news and goodies to welcome you to NPM. Make sure to head over to her blog and check things out!

17 thoughts on “PF: The Thing Is…

  1. maryleehahn says:

    You knocked this one out of the ballpark — a golden shovel AND “the thing is…”!!! Those last two lines…swoon.


  2. Leigh Anne Eck says:

    I agree with MaryLee! Wow! I what you all have done with this prompt!


  3. Sally Murphy says:

    Brilliant! You combined two challenges/prompts with one thought provoking response. ‘What matters is to rise’ indeed!


  4. Tricia Stohr-Hunt says:

    This is an incredible poem. I particularly love
    “what matters is to/rise. Drink deep. Write. So you don’t forget.”

    Thanks for sharing your take on this challenge. I find the different approaches fascinating.


  5. gailaldousmsncom says:

    Wow, Molly! Great detail. I like the effect of repeating the word “to”. Powerful.


  6. Geez, Molly–this is powerful! Pressure creates diamonds :>)


  7. This is so lovely. So many sensory words–parched and guzzled and raw.


  8. Linda Mitchell says:

    Absolutely perfect! Wonderful images…that need to get.


  9. Well done, Molly! The strike line feels like the story of my life. I love your imagery and that last line! So true.


  10. lindabaie says:

    It’s always wonderful when a light appears like your strike line, helping you write a poem of awakening, maybe more than in the morning? I loved reading it, Molly! What a busy March you had!


  11. Very powerful, I really like how your strike line relates to your ending words–yes those little thoughts need to be captured quickly least they run off… And I feel that desert and those “cracked lips.” Ah for having more time… thanks Molly!


  12. Not sure how you managed to get all of those poetry form stars to align, Molly, but brava! Seriously. Wow. I posted The Art of Disappearing on my blog last week—not sure if that’s where you saw it or on another blog. It doesn’t really matter except that I want you to know, for me, it gave your poem special significance since I’ve been lingering in the aura of that poem for some time now. Thank you.


  13. heidimordhorst says:

    Molly, wow. For me it’s the middle section that stands out:
    “the oasis to drink, to guzzle, to remember,
    to relive water cooling your parched throat or something
    soothing your raw, cracked lips. Too
    thirsty to stay still.”
    Desperation, restlessness, relief.


  14. Bridget Magee says:

    A brilliant ‘twofer’, Molly. Well done! 🙂


  15. Wow! This is great! My mom has Alzheimer’s Disease (84) and her short-term memory is awful and getting worse. She is a lover of words but now cannot remember them from one thought to the next. You’ve inspired me to try this form. We just got home from visiting her and my dad for a week – I’ve been thinking of writing about her lack of memory and how I feel about it. Thanks for the inspiration!


  16. margaretsmn says:

    Not sure how I missed this post on Friday. I love what you did with the challenge and that great line from NSN. A morning poem to add to the collection. “Too thirsty to stay still.”


  17. cvarsalona says:

    Great idea, Molly, to take Naomi’s line and create a golden shovel poem.
    what matters is to
    rise. Drink deep. Write!
    That sounds like a mantra for morning.


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