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 Poets.org 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 Poets.org 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
furious
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

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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

 

SOLC Day 22: I’m in Charge of Celebrations

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March 2020 SOLC–Day 22
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

Have you ever read Byrd Baylor’s picture book, “I’m in Charge of Celebrations”? It’s a long-time favorite of mine. Baylor creates such beautiful images with her words and her book, with illustrations by Peter Parnall, is a love song to the desert, and to nature in general. It’s a book that exhorts you to not only recognize the beauty in your own life, but to actively celebrate it. The blurb on the back (which I’d never read before this morning) describes the book as a “radiant prose-poem.”

I videotaped myself reading part of this book to my students yesterday, and as I did so, I realized I’d had  a celebratory moment just that morning. I’ll share it here, using Baylor’s style as a mentor.

And
I was lucky
on Soaring Eagle Day
because I was there
for that one moment
when it happened.

I was walking
along the railroad tracks
that thread between
river and stream,
lost in serious conversation
on my phone,
bending down
talking softly,
fearful, concerned,
not paying
too much attention.

I looked up
in time to see
two eagles
perched in a nearby tree.
I ended my call,
readied my camera.

In that instant
Snap!
A branch broke.
An eagle
tumbled down.
One
two
seconds
falling,
falling.

Then, in that powerful way
that eagles have,
she thrust her wings
and righted herself,
lifting higher,
away from tree
and plummeting
branch.

I watched her soar,
like hope,
into blue skies,
then across the river,
with strong beating
wings.
Her companion
paused,
high in the tree,
then flew after her.

I watched them both
as they flew,
steady and true,
until
they were out of sight.
And the strange thing was
it made me feel better.

So now,
every year,
on March twenty-first,
I will celebrate
Soaring Eagle Day.

 

This past Friday, when I went back into school to grab a few things, this book was one of the first I chose. It struck me that we might need to focus on celebrations in the coming days.

A mere two days later, I feel this more than ever. I’m struggling to choose my walking companions. While worry and fear are eager to come along, I’m making way for joy and wonder and all the celebrations I can find.