It is time to sit down and write. Concentrate. Get your thoughts together. They scattered like leaves in a wind storm. Sit down. Think. It is time to write. You can do it, and you will. Now, sit down. I sit and stare. I play with the keys of my laptop. I pretend to write. I try to think of something. I make lists of all the things I need to do – I must do. Nothing is coming. Nothing makes sense. I seek some of my photographs. Maybe they will help me find the words. Finally, I take a breath. I surrender my mind to the images, and images form in my mind.
Acceptance. I think that is the gift that I give myself when there are a multitude of things that are out of my control on both a personal and global level. My small hands, my curious mind cannot solve any of it. I can accept and move forward. I can accept and be content that I am whole; I am safe in my own small space.
Poetry has always given me that small space to crawl into – to journey down into a deep, welcoming hole and find myself in an open field at the other end, a field of possibility. It is a place to try out new combinations of words to express what is in my inside because my inside is the only thing I can control. How will I approach this situation? How will to react to that setback? What can I do to right myself again?
Words help me know what I’m feeling. Words record where I have been, who I was at that moment of time. They are a snapshot of myself. They help me reflect and grow. They allow me to navigate the world and keep me on a steady course.
Every morning I remind myself why I am here. Mary Oliver’s wise words whisper in my ear: Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? I am here to write.
Softly lace crystals dance
On the chill wind whispering
Three deer play hide and seek
With the trees– leaping
Rabbit in her brown-fur burrow
Safe and warm dreaming
Alder trees arch with the weight
Of new fallen snow creaking
Squirrels frolic in the snow
Fluff their silver tails chattering
A flock of Canada geese glide
Across the frigid sky honking
Meanwhile beneath the deep white
The steadfast garden lies silent
Till spring – Hush now
Swamp Oak in Winter
Silver-white swamp oak
Stands alone in the clearing
Branching up and up
While each slender stem embraces
Curled copper leaves
Like snow-capped cocoons
Silver-white swamp oak
Following the path
Through the woods
Walking in other’s footprints
In the shallow snow,
I feel the tug from the earth,
A call from the bare branches
To come rest in the soft snow,
Sleep till spring.
The woods are silent,
The sun is iced-over,
Each branch, each leaf
Is frozen in space and time,
A lone woodpecker lands
Rendering a hollow sound.
The elm stands bare-boned,
I rest my cool cheek
Against its smooth trunk,
Take comfort from its
Acknowledging the life within.
If you are not yet a writer of poetry, I urge you to try. Observe what’s around you, calm your mind, and narrow your focus. Settle down and relax. You can start small. If I haven’t convinced you to write, then read poetry. Fill your mind with its music. Fill your heart with its knowledge. Begin.
Poetry for Adults
- Aimless Love by Billy Collins
- A Thousand Morning by Mary Oliver
- Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay
- Nine Horses by Billy Collins
- Selected Poems by E.E. Cummings
- Twenty Love Poems by Pablo Neruda
- The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace
- The Undressing: Poems by Li-Young Lee
- The Wild Iris by Louise Gluck
Poetry for Children
- All the Small Poems and Fourteen More by Valerie Worth
- A Pocketful of Poems by Nikki Grimes
- Beautiful Blackbird by Ashley Bryan
- Bookjoy, Wordjoy by Pat Mora
- Creature of Earth, Sea, And Sky by Georgia Heard
- Everything Comes Next by Naomi Shihab Nye
- I am Loved by Nikki Giovanni
- Let it Shine by Ashley Bryan
- One Last Word by Nikki Grimes
- Twist: Yoga Poems by Janet Wong