Monday, April 11, 2016

Butterfly Laughter and Nana's Lap

No. 1 Granddaughter

Teaching Authors continues to celebrate National Poetry Month! And especially National Poem in Your Pocket Day

I have so enjoyed the wisdom of my fellow TAs when it comes to poetry. April started with Steven Withrow’s “What Makes a Turbine Turn” from Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell's new anthology, The Poetry of Science: The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science for KIDS.

Mary Ann shared the moving and memorable “92 by e.e. cummings, and April returned with a Wednesday Writing Workout about rhyming patterns in poetry. Finally, JoAnn introduced us to her darling Rosy.

I am not so wise on poetry. I do not know how to write poetry. I am in awe of those that do. Mr. Poetry Himself, Lee Bennett Hopkins, defines the artform as an experience (Pass The Poetry Please, 3rd Ed., 1998)  that has been distilled to its emotional core. Life itself, he says, is embodied in poetry, and each poem reveals a bit of life. (12).

Recently I became a grandmother for the first time. I am a Nana. These words are profound to me. Too big for me to explain in simple sentences. I never knew my grandparents. And, because life happens, my daughter did not know her grandparents, at least not very well.  Her memories are  fuzzy images  that lack touch, sound and smell.

So the little poems in my pocket are my cheatsheets, teaching me what it means to be a Nana.

Butterfly Laughter by Katherine Mansfield

In the middle of our porridge plates
There was a blue butterfly painted
And each morning we tried who should reach the
butterfly first.
Then the Grandmother said: "Do not eat the poor
That made us laugh.
Always she said it and always it started us laughing.
It seemed such a sweet little joke.
I was certain that one fine morning
The butterfly would fly out of our plates,
Laughing the teeniest laugh in the world,
And perch on the Grandmother's lap.

photo by

Why We Tell Stories by Lisel Mueller

Because we used to have leaves
and on damp days
our muscles feel a tug,
painful now, from when roots
pulled us into the ground

and because our children believe
they can fly, an instinct retained
from when the bones in our arms
were shaped like zithers and broke
neatly under their feathers

and because before we had lungs
we knew how far it was to the bottom
as we floated open-eyed
like painted scarves through the scenery
of dreams, and because we awakened

and learned to speak

We sat by the fire in our caves,
and because we were poor, we made up a tale
about a treasure mountain
that would open only for us

and because we were always defeated,
we invented impossible riddles
only we could solve,
monsters only we could kill,
women who could love no one else
and because we had survived
sisters and brothers, daughters and sons,
we discovered bones that rose
from the dark earth and sang
as white birds in the trees

Because the story of our life
becomes our life

Because each of us tells
the same story
but tells it differently

and none of us tells it
the same way twice

Because grandmothers looking like spiders
want to enchant the children
and grandfathers need to convince us
what happened happened because of them

and though we listen only
haphazardly, with one ear,
we will begin our story
with the word and

Bobbi Miller, Nana In Training


Yvonne Ventresca said...

What a joyous time for you! Thanks for sharing these poems.

Yvonne V

Carmela Martino said...

What a precious photo! Love the poems, too. :-)

Rebecca C said...

Lovely! A beautiful granddaughter and some beautiful poems!

Bobbi Miller said...

Thank you for your kind words, everyone!

Laurie J. Edwards said...

Love the post title & pic. What a special time in your life! Glad you've found poems to help you along the way.

Bobbi Miller said...

Thank you, Laurie! And, if I remember, you are also celebrating Nanahood! Hearts to Nanas!

Karen Eastlund said...

Bobbi - Welcome to Nana-hood. It is THE BEST! The icing on the cake. I am so glad you have the opportunity to love this little one. Congratulations, and enjoy!
Also, I loved the butterfly poem. Very very sweet.

Bobbi Miller said...

Karen: Thank you for your kind words, and for stopping by!!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on becoming a nana to your beautiful new granddaughter! Wonderful poem choices, too!