The Progressive Poem…isn’t here!

You’re probably looking for the Progressive Poem, but you’re going to have to journey a bit further to find it. You can whistle and dance and maybe even do some puddle jumping along the way! Yes, Buffy Silverman set me up beautifully for today’s line, but I got into a bit of a jam. The fabulous Linda Mitchell graciously offered to step up and take my place. Please take a trip over to her blog to check out how she added to this year’s offering. She’s sharing her contribution at her blog, A Word Edgewise.

Linda, once again, thank you so, so much!!!

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!

SOLC Day 31: A Wordy Bouquet

March 2022 SOLC–Day 31
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

In the vase
on the table
Saturday’s optimism
has unfurled
into delicate showers
of petalled gold

And so this challenge comes to an end
like bare branches
watered and warmed
ideas gathered
cultivated into posts
A wordy bouquet

©Molly Hogan

SOLC Day 30: Balancing Act

March 2022 SOLC–Day 30
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

March in Maine has never been my favorite month.

I’m trying to focus on those signs of spring–which are everywhere–but it’s a losing battle right now. After a teaser of a day in the 60s a week or so ago, we’ve plunged back into seriously frigid weather. And I have a cold. And blah, blah, blah.

Last night I kept thinking about trying to balance the positives and negatives, and I wrote this.

SOLC Day 29: Uh! Oh! Your Epidermis is Showing!*

March 2022 SOLC–Day 29
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

One of my fourth grade teaching joys is teaching 9 and 10 year olds about the human digestive system. It’s a pretty simplified unit plan, but quite engaging. We learn all about systems, living and nonliving, and we trace the journey of solid food through the body, considering each organ and its structure and function. We also get to say anus once in a while. So, that’s pretty cool. 

Today we hadn’t even gotten to the good stuff. Teams had shared their experiences with the great “Poofie Ball Challenge” from Friday. (That’s Poofie, not Poopie, thank you very much. And yes, it’s hard to distinguish those two sounds, especially through a mask, and especially when you’re 9 or 10 and predisposed to hear “poop” not “poof” because you’re already horrifascinated by the fact that you’re learning about a system in your body (and potentially poop)…with your peers and a teacher! Ack!). Then we reviewed common parts and talked about how those had functioned in their designed system, considering the relationship between structure and function.

Finally, I wrapped things up and added, “Ok, now tomorrow, we’re going to start talking about the digestive system and focus on the first organ in the digestive system: the mouth.”

“What’s an organ?” someone piped up.

“That’s what we’ll be talking about tomorrow,” I said. “We’re out of time. Clean up and get ready for Specials.”

As the kids bustled around, putting away folders, pushing in chairs, and gathering coats, I circulated. I noticed one of my students frozen in her chair, tapping her mouth over and over.

“What’s up, M?” I asked.

“Oh my God! I’m feeling an organ. My mouth is an organ!”

“Yup,” I said, nonchalantly, for once thankful for the mask that hid my smile.

“But,” she looked up at me, “that means I have a visible organ!”

I nodded.

She moaned.

I opened my mouth, then closed it without speaking. 

I just didn’t have the heart to inform her that her skin is an organ, too.

SOLC Day 28: Thoughts on Streaking*

March 2022 SOLC–Day 28
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

I thought I was going to lose it yesterday. I mean, Wordle was hard! And I’ve got a streak of 75 wins going. With each word guess, as each tile was revealed in monotonous grey, I was getting progressively more concerned. I stopped and considered for a long while. I couldn’t even imagine what to guess next. I had a few dark thoughts about the NYT. Then, finally, luckily, I eked it out on the fifth guess. That’s cutting it a bit close for me.

Phew! 

But then I wondered…why did I get so concerned about this? Why did I care so much?

…….

Duolingo daily sends me pointed reminders…Remember to play today! You don’t want to blow your  streak do you?

I’m at 195 days in a row right now. (Ok, confession, I did use a couple of freezes along the way.) and I really want to get to 200. 

But again, why? Who cares really? Sure it’s great to do something with regularity, but sometimes every day just isn’t a good option.

……..

So, what’s up with streaks anyway?

I remember back in the 90s sports fans were wowed by Cal Ripken’s streak of attendance. He broke the consecutive games played record on September 6, 1995 in his 2,131st consecutive game. We lived in Baltimore at the time and it was big news locally and in the sports world.

I distinctly remember my husband being singularly unimpressed. 

“Who cares?” he said. “What did he miss to do that? How many times did he choose continuing his streak over being with his family?”

He had a point. 

So, now that I’ve gotten sucked into maintaining a couple of less impressive streaks of my own, I’m going to consider willfully breaking them or at least allowing them to fade away. There’s no real value to these streaks. No ultimate goal or end in sight. I’ve just fallen for marketing ploys which are manipulating me to play a game or visit a site. I want to get back to playing Wordle because I love word play and puzzling, not because I’ve got a streak going. And if I forget to go to Duolingo for a day or two, so what? The snail will still have its birthday and someone will still bring several bottles of red wine.**

Ultimately Cal Ripken ended his streak voluntarily after 2,632 games in a row. That’s a lot of games. I wonder what inspired him to make that choice.  Will I end my game streaks by choice or by chance?

On a side note, sometimes streaks do have value. What makes the difference? I’m not sure, but I think it might be about meaningful purpose. There’s certainly one streak I’m on that I’m going to work hard to maintain for at least the next 3 days.

What streaks are you working on?

*If you were around during the seventies, you probably thought I was referring to the bizarre craze for dashing about in public venues sans clothing. Those were the days, right? lol

**Duolingo has some odd sentences to translate and snails and red wine feature frequently.

SOLC Day 27: Uh Oh

March 2022 SOLC–Day 27
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

I noticed my nose was running a little yesterday afternoon, and put it down to the chill lingering in the March air. 

Then last evening, my throat started to hurt. Just a little. You know, like it does when that post-nasal drip is scouring its way down the back of your throat drip by drip.

“I think I’m getting a cold,” I said to my daughter, as we relaxed by the fire. I paused then finished, “I’m a little paranoid it might be Covid.”

She made the appropriate comments (a mix of reassurance and understanding) and we talked about how lots of people are getting colds these days. 

“I guess I’ll take a test tomorrow if I still have symptoms.”

————–

At about 1 am, I woke. 

My throat really hurt. 

“Aw, s&!t” I thought. “I’m going to have to take a test in the morning.”

I lay there, throat feeling raw, contemplating getting up for some Motrin, contemplating what would happen if I did have Covid.

If I’m positive, how many days do I miss? Five? Would that start from yesterday, when I first had “symptoms” or from the test day? 

I honestly can’t keep track of all the changes to the protocols. I’ve given up, figuring I’ll just find out if I ever need to know. Now I wish I knew. My mind kept spinning.

Addie and Ash are supposed to come up on Thursday. If I’m positive, they won’t be able to come. But Addie needs to be here on Friday. Thursday would be the fifth day, right? But if you start counting from yesterday, it would be the sixth? Would that be okay? I’d wear a mask inside. I could hide in my room. What will they do?

Oh, no! Andrea was here yesterday. I’d have to let her know. How would that impact her?

I could move into the spare bedroom…or maybe Kurt could. Which would work better?

Then my thoughts veered back toward school.

If I’m out all next week, or through Thursday, that means I’ll only have four days back at school before I’m out again for three days. Then a few days in again before break. How in the world am I going to have subs teach most of the last bend of the unit and put together conglomerate books? Would I even be allowed to go into school to pull together plans and materials?

Finally, exhausted by my mental vortex, I spun myself back to sleep, then woke again around 5. I quickly did a body scan. My throat still hurt, although maybe not quite as much…or was that wishful thinking?

I went downstairs, drank my orange juice and started the coffee. Then I pulled the Covid tests out from the cupboard where they’d languished (happily to my mind) since December. Within a few minutes, I’d opened a new box, read the materials carefully, swabbed my nose thoroughly, and set a timer for 15 minutes.

I left the test card flat on the counter (as directed), poured myself a cup of coffee and walked out of the room and over to my morning spot. I took a sip of coffee. Its warmth soothed my throat. 

Wait…did I taste that? I took another sip. Faintly. But even if I only have a cold, that influences taste, right? And I just drank OJ. I tasted that, right? Wait. Did I? I think I did. Ugh. I’m just getting paranoid. 

I restrained myself from sticking my head into my husband’s blue cheese container or the fermenting compost bin. Barely. 

I’ll know soon enough.

I started writing in my notebook, skipping haphazardly from one topic to another, unable to remain focused.  

Tick

Tock

Tick

Tock

I wrote a page. 

Then started on another. 

Tick

Tock

Tick

Tock

Halfway down that second page, the alarm sounded stridently.

I stood up and walked slowly toward the kitchen. Toward the test card. I imagined it pulsing red…warning! warning! warning! 

I didn’t want to look. 

I wanted to look. 

Taking a deep breath, I finally looked.

There was a single pink line. 

Oh no. That doesn’t look good. But, wait! What does that even mean? Is that definitely positive? 

I realized that I hadn’t read the part of the instructions about how to interpret results. Quickly I scanned. 

“One positive pink line = negative.”

I heaved a big sigh of relief. Reread it again to make sure. It still said the same thing. I maybe read it once more to triple check. Then, I bundled up the test materials, threw them all into the garbage, and sent up a heartfelt thanks to the universe. 

Phew!

SOLC Day 26: Replete

March 2022 SOLC–Day 26
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

Today, as I often do on the weekends, I was out and about early to watch the sunrise. It wasn’t an especially dramatic sunrise, but there was a quiet beauty to the shifting light, the lingering moon, and the silhouetted tree branches.

Along the waterways, the skies were filled with birds. I took picture after picture of geese and ducks and eagles on the move.

After visiting the bay and my go-to local river, I drove a few minutes further up the road to the Abagadasett River. The light was stunning and in the distance a slight mist rose off the water. I pulled over and got out of my car.

Birds were everywhere. Common mergansers swam, dove, took flight. Red-winged blackbirds called from the trees and a sparrow sang its heart out over and over again. I watched three bald eagles fly one after another up the river. Every time I tried to leave, something pulled me back.

You have time. There’s no hurry. Just relax.

So I stayed.

Watched. Listened. Took pictures.

I let the minutes flow by like the river.

You have time. There’s no hurry. Just relax.

Finally, feeling deeply grateful and content, I got back into my car to head home. I pulled off the shoulder and back onto the road. From nowhere, the word “replete” suddenly filled my mind.

Yes, that’s it, I thought

I am replete.

SOLC Day 25: Rise and Shine, Day Two

March 2022 SOLC–Day 25
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

Yesterday I had a hard time convincing myself to get out of bed (here). Here’s what happened today:

body: “Psst! I’m up! Let’s get going!”

……

(body stretches, wriggles, kicks the covers around a few times)

body: “Psst! Hey!! I’m awake!”

mind, groggily: “Huh? What?… Why are you up? “

body: “I dunno. But what took you so long? I’m awake. Let’s go!”

mind, confused: “I was having the weirdest dreams…”

body: “But now you’re awake…so c’mon!”

mind, slowly: “What time is it anyway? ….Wait! It’s 3:15 am!”

body: “So what? I’m up! It’s like you always say, ‘Rise and Shine!'”

mind: “But we can’t get up now. It’s too early. If we do, we’ll feel awful later.”

body: “Carpe diem! I’m awake! awake! Awake!! AWAKE!!!”

mind: “Ok, ok. Settle down. How about this? We’ll just lie here for a while and see what happens. If you can’t fall back asleep, we’ll get up. Just give it a try.”

body: “Oh, no. No. No. No. You know how that goes. It won’t be pretty!”

mind: “But we could sleep for another 1 1/2 hours! I need it! It’s been a tough week. Please!”

long pause

body: “Fine, I’ll try.”

body, sullenly, “But don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

……………

4:47 am…alarm rings

mind: “Oh, good! We got some more sleep!”

body: ….

mind: “Rise and shine!”

body, diving under the covers: “I don’t wanna…”

and so it begins again…

SOLC Day 24: Rise and Shine!

March 2022 SOLC–Day 24
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

It’s 5:15 am and I’ve already been in an argument.

mind: “Rise and Shine, it’s time to get up.”

body, yawning: “… but I’m tired.” 

mind, in full cheerleeding mode: “I know, I know. It’s been a long week, but you can do it.”

body, groggily: “I don’t wanna.”

mind: “Ok, you don’t want to, but still, you really do have to get up.”

body: ………..

mind: “Listen, your alarm went off ten minutes ago. You need to get up. You haven’t even planned properly for the day.”

body, muffled: “ummmmmhmmmm”

mind: “Hey! HEY! I mean it! You have to get up! You’re going to regret it if you don’t!”

body, snuggling deeper into the blankets: “But I’m soooo cozy. And it’s cold out there!”

mind: “Listen. You only have two more days until the weekend. You can do it. And, you have no planning time today. You have to get going!”

body, petulant: “I don’t care.” 

mind, after taking a slow deep breath and counting to 10: “You say that now. But you know how you’ll feel when you’re scrambling to get everything done.”

body: sigh

mind: “GET MOVING!”

body: “Okay, okay. I heard you. I know.”

A long minute passes…

mind: Hey!!!  Hey!!!  What are you doing!?! Take those covers off your head! NOW!”

silence

mind, desperate: “You have to get up! You know you do. In fact, you’re overdue for an observation! You really are. It could easily be today.”

body, bolting up, scrambling to pull back the covers: “Cr*p! Okay, okay! I’m up. What time is it anyway? Geez, you didn’t have to be so mean about it!”

And so the day begins…