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Mary Oliver’s “Instructions for Living a Life” advises that we should “Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”

I thought of this when I read today’s quick-write on Kate Messner’s Teacher’s Write blog post. I’m often astonished by the beauty of the fields around my house, especially in summer. I’ve written about this in my journals over the years, and Kate’s post inspired me to turn these observations into a poem.

Sometimes, on a summer morning

Grandpa Stuart’s fields are touched

by the rays of the rising sun

so just the top of the grasses

glow in the yellow light.

Goldfinches perch on purple thistles,

breakfasting on seeds.

Sometimes, a deer wanders into the field,

interrupting their feast.

Startled, they rise as one

into the air, darting and diving,

chittering as they fly

before settling down

to the business at hand:

harvesting the glorious sunshine

captured in those thistles.

One of Grandpa Stuart’s fields at sunset. It was hayed this week, so there are no thistles.

What astonished you today?

This post is doing double duty for today’s Slice of Life Challenge at Two Writing Teachers. Thank you, as always, to Stacey and Ruth for hosting!

14 thoughts on “Sometimes…

  1. Catherine,
    what astonished me today was the sticky sweltering heat-a day so sticky, even bugs would not move-now we’re experiencing lines of thunderstorms moving through-a lot of lightening. I feel badly for anyone with difficulty breathing on days like these-it scares me to think of the heat causing suffering for people who can’t breathe well.

    Your poem sweetly captures the work and the play of the little birdies. Thank you for taking time to notice them and share details about their scene. it’s fun to watch them with the thistle isn’t it?


    • Thank you, Amy, for taking the time to read and comment. Was it you who mentioned “perfection paralysis” during Teachers Write last year? I’ve been working hard to overcome mine, and receiving comments like yours has made that much easier!

      My son had asthma when he was little. It was frightening to watch him struggle to breathe, I felt so helpless. Thankfully, he outgrew it. I love your observation that it was “so sticky, even the bugs would not move.” It was like that here, too, but I was in air-conditioning working on curriculum.


  2. What astonished me (besides your beautiful and oh so poetic poem!) is that on my way to the National Writing Project (75 mile drive) I actually had ideas swirling through my brain for writing. It’s like a bug that I just caught and can’t get rid of. What a nice thing to have. 🙂



  3. I am reading and re-reading your poem, and find myself getting lost of just the lovely, particular noticings you created. Just beautiful!


  4. You have captured something deeply personal that has moved to the universal, such a noticing of beauty and sunlight. Thanks for sharing and inspiring. Happy you are one of my Teachers Write camp-mates!


  5. I loved it! I especially loved the contrast of colors in the goldfinches on the purple thistles image. Teachers Write is so inspiring, isn’t it?! Keep up the good writing!


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