This month I was in charge of selecting our writing group challenge, which in itself can be a challenge. I considered, rejected, pondered, fretted and finally browsed around a bit on the internet. Ultimately, I discovered a new-to-me site and this prompt:
“Go to a book you love. Find a short line that strikes you. Make that line the title of your poem. Write a poem inspired by the line. Then, after you’ve finished, change the title completely.”
I liked the feel of this prompt–open to many interpretations and any forms. I also loved that I’d get to revisit a favorite book. How irresistible is that?
Hmmm….now which book to choose? I considered a number of favorites, but ultimately, I opted to revisit Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. This book is an outlier in my reading history. I bought it as a teenager and it took me at least three or four false starts and a decade or more before I finally read it. When I put it down, I announced, “This is one of the best books I’ve ever read.” I have no idea if it would resonate with me as powerfully now. Perhaps it would feel “overwrought” as some critics labeled it. Or perhaps once again I would be deeply moved by the lyrical language and the delight of immersing myself in a young boy’s small town summer adventures in 1923. I intend to reread it soon to find out.
In the meantime, here are a few gems from Dandelion Wine, not necessarily short, to give you a flavor.
“And some days, he went on, were days of hearing every trump and trill of the universe. Some days were good for tasting and some for touching. And some days were good for all the senses at once. This day now, he nodded, smelled as if a great and nameless orchard had grown up overnight beyond the hills to fill the entire visible land with its warm freshness. The air felt like rain, but there were no clouds.”
(and how sad I am that the word trump has been so irrevocably tarnished as it’s used to such great effect here…)
“Way out in the country tonight he could smell the pumpkins ripening toward the knife and the triangle eye and the singeing candle.”
(Oh, how I wish I’d written this line!)
Here’s a longer passage I love about the power of new shoes.
And finally, here’s the line I finally chose to work with: “Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don’t they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.”
On drowsy summer days
when air thickens,
potent and heavy,
drone to and fro.
I halfdoze on the patio,
tiptoeing across cosmos
phlox and bee balm,
accumulating spicy floral notes
on their tiny bee feet.
As they rise
in bumbling flight,
I fancy the notes sparkle
yielding to gravity’s tug,
a glimmer of fairy dust
released by busy bees
keen on making honey
unaware of their legacies,
and setting a sweetness of
in the spiced summer air.
This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is over at A Year of Reading today. Make sure to stop by and check out the sneak peek into Irene Latham’s newest book–a middle grade dystopian verse novel. Wow!
If you’re interested in seeing how the other Swaggers interpreted the challenge I posed, check out their posts by clicking on the links:
Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche
Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe
Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise