PF: Spring Cleaning

This month it was my turn to pick the writing challenge for the Inklings. Spring arrives a bit later up here in Maine, so my thoughts turned to the much vaunted “spring cleaning.” Anyone who knows me well, knows that cleaning is not my forte. Still, here was the challenge I posed (perhaps with procrastination in mind): “Spring is finally arriving in Maine, and though, year after year, I turn my back on spring cleaning, I thought it might be fun to write a poem about some sort of domestic task. (Writing a poem = way more fun than cleaning!) “

I also shared a link to a possible mentor poem called, aptly, “Spring Cleaning”.

Spring Cleaning
by Ellen M. Taylor

Why are there no poems of the joy
of vacuum cleaning after a long

winter? Of the pleasure of pulling
the couch back, sucking up cobwebs, dead

flies, candy cane wrappers, cookie crumbs?
The sun rises earlier now, flooding

the room with daffodil light, enough
to see long unseen clumps of dog hair,…

(click here to read the rest of the poem)

Once I’d shared the challenge, I realized that I really didn’t know what I wanted to write. All my best intentions to clean and organize scatter every weekend morning when I awake to a vibrant, changing world. How could I write about cleaning? Perhaps more to the point, how can you stay inside when there’s something to exclaim over around each corner?! The bees are buzzing! The alewives are running and the osprey are fishing! There’s a pair of wrens nesting in the tree out back! Lilacs perfume the air! Dandelions transform lawns to wishing field overnight! Spring showers bauble the garden! The warblers are warbling! There’s just so much going on! In Spring the world is on permanent exclamation point! It’s a time of year that invites, almost demands, celebration. I kept thinking of the hymn, “How Can I Keep from Singing?” Finally, I decided to use that song as a sort of parody base for my poem.

You can find different versions of the lyrics, but here’s a choral rendition of the the version I prefer which is more inclusive:

So, as you read, feel free to sing along with my poem. To be honest, I do not know how well the rhythm and the poem itself works without the hymn in mind, because I sang as I wrote this and can’t divorce the melody from the words!

Spring Cleaning

As Winter fades and Spring arrives
abrim with new creations
the virtuous are locked inside
obsessed with dirt predation

But robin’s rockin’ on the lawn
an oriole is singing
wisteria drips down the vines
while they’re inside mop-wringing

I tarry in the shower stall
where grout is grim and greening
I make one desultory swipe
then flee away from cleaning

Although the corner cobwebs grow
in silent protestation
I can not yield the duster more
without loud lamentation

The grass is green, the skies are blue
the vernal pools are teeming
What foolish person would I be,
if I just kept on cleaning?

The meadows burst with newfound life
sweet blossoms resurrected
Each day unfolds with new delights
Spring cleaning is neglected

When flowers tremble in the breeze
and birds are hover-gleaning
I will not yield to tyrant dirt
I will not keep on cleaning

I will not scour, dust and mop
and waste these hours, fleeting
Spring’s miracles will soon be gone.
There’s time enough for cleaning.

©Molly Hogan

Karen Edmisten is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday Round up at her blog. Be sure to stop by and enjoy a wonderful poem by Yeats and while you’re there, check out some other posts as well. If you want to check out what the other Inklings did with this challenge, click on the links below:

Linda Mitchell
Catherine Flynn
Heidi Mordhorst
MaryLee Hahn
Margaret Simon

Also, be sure to spend some time outside celebrating the wonders of Spring!

31 thoughts on “PF: Spring Cleaning

  1. rosecappelli says:

    Love this! Your poem reinforces the belief that time spent outside is never wasted.”Spring’s miracles will soon be gone” indeed.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Bravo, Molly! I love how you brought so much spring into your poem. Thank you for this fun challenge (and the great video)!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. lindabaie says:

    Awesome, Molly, my first read of your words ‘vernal pools’ & knew you would be out and away, not in the shower “where grout is grim and greening”. Then I was singing! It brings back all those old ads of smiling women with things like Clorox!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Linda Mitchell says:

    WOW! I really did sing your poem (super quiet as my family is still asleep). What a perfect poem…this so YOU! And, thank goodness you go out to capture beauty with your camera and pen. You really give the rest of us a gift with that. I have to admit, “grout greening” is my new favorite…which I will hum this weekend as I have guests arriving soon. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Linda KulpTrout says:

    Wonderful, Molly! I especially love the last stanza!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. That’s a favorite hymn for me and I belted it out with your lyrics (and without cleaning)! Spring comes late to our Sierras too, so I’m outside enjoying the hint of buds forming on the manzanita, the chinquapin, the lilac, and the fir!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sally Murphy says:

    Oh wow Molly. You had me singing and nodding along. Time enough indeed!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sarah Tuttle says:

    Thank you for sharing! This is delightful. And, maybe makes me feel a little better about meandering around in the garden while there’s work inside to be done. You’re right– Spring is fleeting! Might as well enjoy it! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. cvarsalona says:

    Molly, your poem makes me not feel guilty about indulging in life outside when there is so much paperwork piled up inside. This weekend I will not waste time but indulge in spring’s miracles that can be found all around me.
    “There’s time enough for cleaning.”

    Liked by 1 person

  10. katswhiskers says:

    Whoot! Whoot! Whoooot! Three cheers for a poem after my own heart, Molly. And the discipline to carry it through to the finish. Fantabulous response to the challenge – and the housework!!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. maryleehahn says:

    Thank you for both the old Quaker hymn and the new Molly hymn to my kind of housework (ie: not doing it…there are much better ways to spend my time)!! I also loved this: “In Spring the world is on permanent exclamation point!” YES!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. margaretsmn says:

    What a brilliant and jubilant poem! I love the rhymes and appreciate the time it takes to make them work with rhythm and message and all the stuff of good poetry. You should tuck this one into that book plan of yours complete with your amazing photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. What an irresistible post with gorgeous images and riveting jazzy music–love the horns in there. And then we have your wonderful poem, begging us to be no other place but outside, I’m smiling from it–and I’d much rather be with nature than cleaning, Thanks Molly!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. heidimordhorst says:

    “on permanent exclamation point!” We sang this at our UU Flower Communion service last week and it is always on point–and this version made me sob. Your version is funny and wise and carefully constructed–and eminently virtuous.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. gailaldousmsncom says:

    Molly, I love your poem; is so much fun! Such great rhyming! I chuckled a lot because I hate to clean and would much rather be outside, too. However, our youngest daughter is coming home for a visit, so we NEED to clean. I especially enjoyed these lines “corner cobwebs grow/ in silent protestation, robin’s rockin’ on the lawn, sweet blossoms resurrected, and the vernal pools are teeming.” Perfect last stanza! I also love “In Spring the world is on permanent exclamation point!” Love those stunning spring photos, too and all your photos on FB! Thank you for sharing your joy and inspiration. You brought me joy, too. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments, Gail. I really appreciate them. Sharing my photos brings me a lot of joy, so I’m so glad it’s a positive for you as well. 🙂


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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s