Writer’s Digest November Poem-a-Day 2017 Challenge #6. Theme: Praise

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This Mother’s Praise

Her eyes lit up
as she tinkled on the potty,
exclaiming, “Good job!”
She looked to me
for confirmation,
and I wondered
if it was prudent to praise
for every little thing.

Was my praise for something
so small
akin to giving everyone a trophy?

But when I saw my child’s belief
in herself
grow—
like the bahiagrass after a summer rain—
I knew I had served her well.

For positivity—
like every other like thing—
reproduces after its own kind.
It is my sacred calling as her parent
to make her feel capable
of the little things,
for, in doing so,
I would make her feel capable
of the big things.

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/2017-november-pad-chapbook-challenge-day-6

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#Micropoetry Monday: Realms of Motherhood

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The extra time she used to spend reading mystery novels,
she spent reading Mickey Mouse’s adventures.
The extra time used to spend watching “I Love Lucy,”
she spent making someone else laugh.
The extra time she used to spend working on her own story,
she recorded their story,
so that her child would never forget
that he’d been loved
before her time ran out.

#Micropoetry Monday: Love Story

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When he published his late wife’s book,
it brought back the woman he’d loved before,
& the son he’d never known.
By fulfilling her last wish,
she’d fulfilled his.

His whole married life,
she’d been a mystery.
It was only through her death
that he solved the puzzle she’d been–
realizing that because he’d loved what he’d known,
he could love what he had not.

She had stayed with him through sickness,
he, through health;
she, through poorer,
he, through richer.
The worse was greater than
the better,
& yet she stayed,
for the promise had said “or”
& not “and.”

They changed roles out of necessity–
him becoming the house husband,
her becoming the career woman–
modeling themselves after what worked for them,
& not their Mormon counterparts.

His thumb was green
even as hers was black,
but with his fertilizer
in her fertile ark,
they reproduced one of each–
after their own kind.

The Processes of Seed and Clay

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In the process of moving and going through old boxes, I found a medal I’d won my eighth grade year for “Excellence in English,” and I thought, Just when was it I knew I wanted to be a writer?

Paper had always been such a part of my life.  Before I was old enough to draw, I spent hours cutting it up.  (I believe snowflakes were my favorite creation.)  Once, while my dad was asleep, I cut up every paper in the house, causing him to throw my red Roger Rabbit scissors against the Butano heater in our Spanish apartment, breaking them.

As my brain developed, I began to illustrate the stories in my imagination, my fascination centering around the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (especially the Hanging Gardens of Babylon).  Then, my third grade teacher, Ms. Cahoon, had us keep journals.  I always wrote about my summers in Poplar Bluff; I was never interested in keeping a diary (I preferred to write creative nonfiction without the gushy stuff.)  I didn’t like writing about my feelings, save through the medium of poetry, so that no one could read this or that and say for sure, “That’s Sarah.”

Through poetry, I could reveal everything in plain sight.

I don’t know when it is that we know what we want to be–whether it’ll be in athletics, academics, or the arts.  I only remember my parents’ encouragement, never their pressuring me to be interested in any one thing (though my dad would only help me with history homework because it interested in him; if it was math or science, I was on my own).  Mom and Dad simply exposed me to what they could afford to; lucky for them, I was always drawn to books, such as the Berenstain Bears, Encyclopedia Brown, The Baby-Sitters Club series, and any books by Roald Dahl, as well as all the Newbery Medal award winners.  Books were my way out of poverty (literally and figuratively).  For years, I fancied myself as Francie Nolan from the movie, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn; I could write lies that weren’t lies because they were stories.

I am so grateful that my parents just let me be (I call it the Libertarian approach), which is why most of my daughter’s playtime is unstructured.  I see how she ignores the television (thank God) unless there’s music, during which she is immediately transfixed.  Maybe that’s why I enjoy singing to her so much (though it does get a bit daunting trying to come up with a different melody for every nursery rhyme).

When she starts kindergarten, I’ll enroll her in piano lessons (as music works every part of the brain).  My husband prefers classic instrumental, though I always balk a bit at that, because I’m a writer, so of course, lyrics matter (though I wanted only “Canon” played at my wedding).  I see lyrics as telling a story, the melody, making you feel that story.  With classical music, there is no story–you just feel. 

Poetry, for me, is the flip side of instrumentals.

Everyone should have something–something that encourages mindfulness, something that draws them outside themselves.  My craft does that for me; I will lose myself in it, yet I will find more of myself I hadn’t known was there.

Because I know how much fuller my life is with writing, I want my daughter to have an outlet (so far, it’s ripping up paper).  Children come to us a blank slate, and it’s our job, as parents, to shape them as if they were clay–to mold them into good human beings–but they’re also seeds that need to be watered with nurture so they can reveal what they are meant to become.

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#Micropoetry Monday: Education

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She took a math class to learn about absolutes,
a science class to learn about theories,
but to learn about life,
she took the humanities.

Having been raised to let a man care for her,
she never knew her gifts beyond domesticity,
until she married the man who needed her care,
& found,
in herself,
her potentialities.

She went back to school for a medical degree,
only to find herself in English class,
writing about how her medical degree
would pay for her English degree.

With her Master’s,
she chose to become a SAHM.
Those who said she wasted her education,
could not see the knowledge
she passed on to her children.

Because she feared College Algebra,
she quit the first time,
but 15 years later,
she found herself backed against a
crumbling financial wall,
& knew she had to overcome that
which she could not understand.

#Micropoetry Monday: Irony

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When she gave birth to the daughter
who would cause her screams,
she did not know she was giving birth
to her own death 20 years later-
a death that would silence those screams.

She lived a life without regrets,
but then, she had no memory.
It was bliss.

For if only he’d known she’d asked for him,
he wouldn’t have left Tara,
with Ashley alone & aggrieved,
the remnants of The Old South–
burnt and faded from Bonnie Blue
to bleached denim–
the last of which was
gone with the wind.

She was sorry she ever lied,
for because of her lie,
the lie became a truth.

For she’d wanted 7 children
& 1 husband,
but ended up with 7 husbands
& 1 child–
all because she had put
her husbands before the 1.

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #405: Money

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What Money Bought Her

It bought her healthy food,
respectable clothing,
safe and clean shelter,
reliable transportation,
and quality medical care.
It paid for her college education,
which paid off with a career she loved
so that she could escape the job she loathed.
It bought books the library did not have
and toys for those who had little.
It paid for the technology
that connected her to the world.
It gave her family the ability to see that world,
unfiltered through a screen.
It paid for the piano lessons
for her autistic daughter;
for the horse she rode
to alleviate her anxiety.
Whether the money came from herself,
from taxes,
or from charity,
it was money that afforded her these things.
No, it didn’t buy everything,
but it bought everything else.

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/wednesday-poetry-prompts-405