Micropoetry Monday: The Fault of their Stars

He was a logical astronomer,
she, an astrologer who was
a certified space cadet.
For years, he’d studied the heavens,
only to make contact with this celestial body
who would take him there
at the speed of sound.

He studied the planets,
to learn more about his own.
She studied her ancestors,
to learn more about herself.
When he learned that Earth
was his adopted home,
it changed nothing,
but when she learned that
her family
was her adoptive family,
it changed everything.

He lived amongst the stars,
who weren’t so bright without their scripts,
whereas she lived under
another kind of star—
the ones that would outlive every last one of them
& needed no words to amaze them all.

Book Review: Alma and How She Got Her Name


As part of my Post-K Summer Reading Boot Camp:  https://sarahleastories.com/2019/06/08/post-k-summer-reading-boot-camp-2019/

This was a great idea for a book; even though most children don’t have names this long, every child’s name comes from somewhere.  

The chalk drawings in a limited color palette were lovely, and though it was nice to see such father-daughter bonding over family history, I wondered where Alma’s mother was, because surely, she had a contribution in naming her child.  I also found it interesting that none of Alma’s relatives were alive–at least any that she was named for.  

Showing how each of Alma’s ancestors not only had a story but how their stories tied in to who she was (like an ancestry.com commercial) kept Alma as the central character.  However, not every ancestor was given equal time–Pura was given a paragraph and Candela, a sentence. A goodreads reviewer pointed out that it wasn’t shown what Alma’s grandmother was protesting; the protest signs just said “Listen,” “Think,” and “Complain,” which was deliberately vague, I believe, in an effort to not offend.  When Alma’s father says Candela always stood up for what was right, I think that should’ve been amended to “what she believes in.” After all, how do we know if what Candela was fighting for was right?  

The vagueness of this book throughout (e.g. Sofia enjoying generic poetry, the unnamed city in which Esperanza lived, et cetera) made it less interesting than it could’ve been.  Specificity is what makes stories and characters come alive. I also think consistency in how the story was told (i.e. keeping it in scrapbook form) would’ve made it better. (Sofia and Esperanza are depicted in photographs, but Pura and Candela are not.)

But the perfect ending came when her father explained where Alma’s name came from–that she isn’t just a collage of the past but a blank canvas for the future which she will fill with her experiences–that someday, one of her descendants with her namesake will be telling her story.

This is one of the few kids’ books that could use a sequel, showing Alma growing up, “trying on” each of her names, and discovering that even though she is a little of Sofia, a little of Jose, et cetera, she is ultimately more herself than anyone else.  

Suggested activity:  As my daughter’s first and middle names were chosen simply because my husband and I liked them (and not based on any family history), we go through old scrapbooks and share memories–whether they are stories that have been passed down or memories that I remember. (And for heaven’s sakes, write them down!)


Writer’s Digest November Poem-a-Day 2017 Challenge #21. Theme: Deconstruction/Reconstruction


Deconstructing Sarah

Constructed of the genes of my co-creators–
the sassy Black Irish,
the passive, graying Scandinavian (could’ve sworn Dad was French)–
I end up a shade of Romanian white,
sprinkled with freckles
where either angels kissed me
or peed on me.

I am broken down, reduced,
and deconstructed daily
by the elements of life:
Age, worry, stress, distress,
illness, frustration, exhaustion,
depression, desperation,
and sometimes anger.

Optimism has seen me through hunger and homelessness,
through carlessness and marital strife,
through my child’s unknown diagnosis,
through feelings of friendlessness and
the collapsing of my seemingly wonderful life.

Is Optimism the Holy Spirit’s name,
or is it something incomprehensible
that dwells inside me?
For does it not haunt my temple
in a pleasing way?

Is it I who holds onto Optimism
or does it hold on to me?
For everything in my life is broken,
but not shattered.
The cracks will always be there,
but that’s how the light comes in.
That’s where the wrinkles come from.

Optimism is why I’ve done
everything I’ve ever done.
It is why I’ve chosen to stay here,
why I’ve chosen to go there.
It is why I know what I know,
and chose not to know
what I do not wish to know.

Every gray hair–
like the rings of a tree–
show the world
that I have made it this far.
And someday,
the day will come
when I will wash it away
with a five-dollar box of natural auburn,
and my body will run red with the steaming shower water
as if I have bled from every pore.


Micropoetry Monday: Family Dynamics

When they did their DNA,
Dad traded in his wooden shoes
for a Viking helmet,
but Mom could not trade in
her Black Irish hair
for the auburn that could have been hers
if she’d been born sooner.

His siblings and cousins had been close
when they were children,
but when the patriarch,
who said family was everything,
passed away,
it proved that he was the everything
that had held the family together.

Dad wore many uniforms,
Mom wore many hats,
but as for me & my brother,
we wore many masks.

When the Irish Catholic met the Roman Catholic,
they had Irish potato gnocchi
& spaghetti with soda bread.
They made it work because,
like many others,
they were all trying to get to the same place—
a gastronomical heaven.

She’d been an idealist before she’d married,
seeing a life of in-laws that were like blood &
double dating with mutual friends,
but when the honeymoon rose again,
his love was all that shone.