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!

Kindness

Last week I wrote about the kindness of a stranger at Target (here). This past Friday I received in the mail a note from friends who also follow my blog. They wrote because they were moved by that post about the woman who had bought a game for my classroom. They wanted me to know that, and they also enclosed a check to use “the next time you go to Target for games” for your students. Again, I was deeply touched. I realized how easy it can be to forget how many kind people there are in this world–people who actively try to spread kindness in small but oh-so-meaningful ways.

Then, on Saturday a bulky envelope arrived in my mailbox. Within was a beautifully hand-crafted book created by my writing group, the Inklings. They had filled the pages with bookmarks, stationary, and poems to comfort me as I grieve the loss of my father. I was left teary-eyed and speechless by their creativity and thoughtfulness. As I wrote them in thanks, “…just when life sends you reeling with a blow, hands reach out to hold you up.” Again, such kindness.

In her poem, Kindness, Naomi Shihab Nye writes,
“Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.”

In these days as I traverse a raw grief, I feel all my prior losses reverberating in tune with this newest sadness. It can be easy to listen only to those somber notes, to sink into sorrow.

Nye’s poem goes on to say,

“Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.”

Kindness matters. From the examples above, to the outpouring of thoughtful words and gestures from oh-so-many. Though some of my days are filtered darkly through a screen of grief, kindness has clearly raised its head. I feel its presence beside me and it comforts me, alters the shape of my grief, lightens its load. Ultimately, it allows me to feel blessed as well as bereft.

Thank you, my friends.