Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sing it out!

I gave my students a test last week...which meant that the first book we read as a literature class is now over...which means I need to know what comes next.

I didn't.

Until last night.

And now, egad, I am thrilled.

We're doing poetry...long poetry.  Story-telling poetry.  Salty-sweet-tang-for-the-tongue-deeply-musical-visual poetry.  Interestingly enough, the idea for this came while listening to Krista Tippet's On Being interview with Keith Devlin about mathematical thinking and sonnets, and the interpretation of patterns. Fascinating stuff... that led me to think about how this math, these patterns--which can be interpreted in color, forces (magnetic, kinetic, etc)  language, numbers, sound...are so essential to being-ness.  These harmonies are holding me together, grounding me and at the same time, allowing me to experience their mystical essence.

I am not able to explain exactly why I come close to weeping when I read the perfection of Shakespeare's sonnets or why this morning I found myself alone in my room proclaiming aloud, afoot, and with certain passion Wordsworth's Tintern Abbey .  I can't explain it...except to say that what I hear when the syllables come together to make word and image has me Become a bit more.  It has me ache and YES and AH...and even more than that, it inspires in me a desire to take up the tools and create something that sings of me...of my become a part of the conversation...conversation, relationship, that is at the humming warm center of covenant...

Purple Robe by Henri Matisse
Purple Robe
Matisse is an artist that inspires this same feeling in me. When I see what he did with color and pattern, I can hardly contain myself...  His are paintings I hear just as some poems are music and some music is a frame for walking through into living art.

I am not sure how I am going to explain this to my students...who are eleven.  But, I will try.

Sing it out!

Lullaby, hullabaloo,
fandango, frisbee, and kazoo!
Rumplestilkskin, razzmatazz,
flibbertigibbet and all that jazz!
Spigot, junket, trinket, jalopy,
fastidious, meticulous, chaotic, sloppy.
Wishy-washy dragonfly,
gorgonzola, infinite pi!
Quotidian tango twosomes
spied through a transom tilting
after passing by the fern fronds
looking lax and wither-wilting.
Knolls, nooks, a shekere!
For my linguistic pleasure, I like an array
of crunchy, silvery, syllabic fun
to belt in the rain and proclaim in the sun!
So hear me sing of pulchritude!
Of oblong oolong tea leaves steeping,
of davenports and aptitude,
of words I read that are worth keeping.

c. MperiodPress

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Sacred moment, sacred trust

Yesterday I had a third grader bless me...and I am still left with the sensation of awe, respect, and humility that I experienced in that moment and in the hours that followed.

After her class trip to the library, a student approached me, telling me that her grandmother had died and that the funeral is today, Saturday. She then asked me, "Would you write me a poem I could read at her funeral?"

My world went silent and noisy all at the same time...which sounds contradictory, but really, that's what it felt like. It was such a sudden and transparently divine moment... I said simply, "Of course." And she nodded her head and went off with her class.

I thought of her being in third grade, about my not knowing her grandmother, about the sacred trust she had expressed, and then I wrote. I printed it on card stock, glued it to construction paper, and then took it to her classroom so she could read it and see if it worked for her.

When she saw it, she read it, she got a bit pink, nodded again, and then looked hard at me, saying nothing but "Thanks."

I can't help but recognize her simple request as one of the most sacred requests ever asked of me.

About this experience, I wrote the following this morning, while tucked into a corner of my Saturday thought-spot, Picasso's, a local coffee shop:

I was so very moved on so many different levels. One, Wow, what sacred stust, what a sacred honor to do this for her. Two, how beautiful that she, in third grade!, wanted to honor her grandmother via poetry and had the courage and creativity to make that be possible...Her parents had no idea and were incredibly grateful in their response to the emails that I sent. Three, whoa, it is humbling in such an amazing way to be seen as, recognized as, a writer/poet by an eight year know that a child has paid that close of attention or thought that writing is a skill for which she has respect. AUGH, this is such a moment of gratefulness to God and a moment of awe...and I honestly had the sense of Jesus saying See? And beyond "See?" also "Feel?" Feel what that is like? Feel that invitation to recognize the internals and externals of that moment of transparency...where you come to know not figuratively but actually, the love of an exchange of respect, of love, of trust.