Poetry Friday: #MarvelousMaryLee

I don’t remember exactly when I first found A Year of Reading, the blog where Mary Lee and Franki Sibberson have been writing about reading, poetry, and literacy for 15 years. It was one of the first blogs I started reading regularly in those early years. Mary Lee’s passion for teaching, her talent as a poet, and her all-around amazingness have inspired me ever since. Her generous invitations to have others join in during her annual April Poetry Projects were the nudge I needed to begin writing my own poetry. Her kind and encouraging words kept me going. How lucky are children who have had the privilege of spending a year in her classroom? How lucky are we that we can help celebrate Mary Lee’s retirement? Congratulations, Mary Lee, and thank you for everything! Like everyone gathered here today, I can’t wait to see where your next adventure takes you!


Your gift of observation is polished
to a high sheen;
nothing escapes your notice. 

After thirty-seven years,
you’ve scrutinized
and studied
almost one thousand students.

You invited their light
every wavelength–
into the cauldron of your mind,
where an alchemy of attention
and imagination helped you
find the essence of them.

For your students, 
thanks to you,
everything comes next.

For you, always open to surprises,
everything comes next.

(Italicized lines borrowed from Mary Lee’s “Words from the Poet” in Poems Are Teachers. “Everything comes next” is borrowed from the title of Naomi Shihab Nye’s latest collection of poems.)

Draft © 2021 by Catherine Flynn

Please visit the hostess of this online extravaganza, Christie Wyman, at Wondering and Wandering for more #PoemsforMaryLee! Be sure to wish Christie happy birthday while you’re there!

Poetry Friday: #poemsofpresence

Last weekend, my friend and critique group partner, Margaret Simon, asked on Twitter: “Who’s interested in writing #poemsofpresence? … We can create a calm May 2021 to end the weirdest school year ever.”

It definitely has been the weirdest school year ever. And calm is always welcome. So I have been reminding myself to be present this week to what Kathryn Aalto calls “nature’s palliative powers.” (Writing Wild, p. 237) Here are two poems of presence, inspired by the busy-ness of the apple tree in my front yard.

Fib for the Bees

from blossom
to blossom, sipping
nectar, pollen dusting bellies
making honey for bees, apples for you and me.

Draft © 2021, Catherine Flynn

Rest Stop

Warblers on the wing
heading north to nest
pause to refuel
in the welcoming arms
of an old apple tree.

Draft © 2021, Catherine Flynn

Please be sure to visit Bridget Magee at Wee Words for Wee Ones for the Poetry Friday Roundup.