Ruth Ayres recently encouraged me to think about what it means to live with arms wide open. Even though I’m an introvert at heart, I love to take quiet risks. I was born curious and that curiosity hasn’t subsided in my sixth decade of living. I guess that’s why I also love teaching. I am always looking for the new — looking to learn.
Last week, I found a new poetry form. I never had heard of it before. A new children’s poetry book, Nine: A Book of Nonet Poems written by Irene Latham and illustrated by Amy Huntington, will be published in June. Nonets are poems with 9 lines and 45 syllables. Nonets can go in descending or ascending order (9-1 or 1-9 lines).
Line 1: 9 syllables Line 2: 8 syllables Line 3: 7 syllables Line 4: 6 syllables Line 5: 5 syllables Line 6: 4 syllables Line 7: 3 syllables Line 8: 2 syllables Line 9: 1 syllable
I decided to have a go at writing nonets. I actually like the challenge of having to stay within a form. It is somehow comforting to have parameters, boundaries – a garden border, a frame for my thoughts.
Nine Song Birds
In my yard, under the great green pine,
The songbirds gather in the shade
Pecking and chirping along:
Robin, jays, chickadees
With one joyous voice,
Keeps the beat:
Rhythm – – –
The crocus first,
In row upon row,
Then Yellow daffodils,
Golden guardians stand watch.
Sunshine in the form of flowers,
Long awaited spring returns and blooms.
As I continued to reflect on the idea of “arms wide open,” it made me think of the poem by Emily Dickinson, “Hope is a Thing with Feathers.” I had repeated that poem over and over again when my mother was gravely ill six years ago. On a crisp, blue early November day when she was cremated, I walked out into the cemetery and suddenly a flock of Canadian geese took flight. They honked and flapped, creating a “V” as they lifted into the air. I smiled and took in this as a final good-bye from my mother whose name was Vivian. She was a teacher too and an artist. It was Vivian who taught me to live life with arms wide open.