Poetry Friday: Welcome, National Poetry Month!

What a happy coincidence that National Poetry Month begins on a Friday this year! And, because the Inkling challenge is the first Friday of each month, today is a trifecta of poetry goodness. This month, Mary Lee challenged us to “Use “The Thing Is” by Ellen Bass as a mentor text. Keep the title, but choose a theme/message either from your own life or from current events.” Bass’s poem is full of the pain and contradictions of life, asks questions, and reaches a resolution.

Today is also the first day of my month-long poetry project. For the past two years, I’ve explored the natural world through poetry. Two years ago, my poems were about News from the Natural World. Last year’s project was inspired by Kathryn Aalto’s Writing Wild: Women Poets, Ramblers, and Mavericks Who Shape How We See the Natural World. That journey was such an incredible learning experience that I wanted to do something similar this year. My friend and fellow Inkling, Heidi Mordhorst (who is also hosting today’s Roundup), suggested reading All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis, edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson. But I also recently discovered Rooted: Life at the Crossroads of Science, Nature, and Spirit, by Lyanda Lynn Haupt. At the risk of being indecisive, I’m not going to commit to one book or the other. Rather, I envision this month’s writing to be a response to the connections between these two books. Who knows where that will lead?

So, using “The Thing Is” as a starting point, this month’s journey begins with a walk in the woods.

The thing is

I have so many
questions,
so many 
things I. Don’t. Understand.

But I know
a walk
in the woods
on a cold day
in late March, 
will hold surprises.

Maybe sharp-lobed hepatica 
are erupting from leaf litter,
scattered beside the trail, 
their pale pink petals
streaked like the morning sky,
each flower with a 
a dazzling supernova
of stamens at the center.

Or a lone antler
rests at the base
of a scarred oak,
or a jumble
of hawk feathers
lay in a heap
by a fallen log.

As I study 
the remains 
of this fierce predator,
my need for answers
becomes urgent.

I realize, though, I don’t know 
who to ask.

Draft © Catherine Flynn, 2022

Please visit my fellow Inklings to read their responses to Mary Lee’s challenge, and the Poetry Friday Round up at Heidi’s blog.

Heidi Mordhorst @ My Juicy Little Universe
Linda Mitchell @ A Word Edgewise
Margaret Simon @ Reflections on the Teche
Mary Lee Hahn @ A(nother) Year of Reading
Molly Hogan @ Nix the Comfort Zone

21 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Welcome, National Poetry Month!

  1. I love the book Rooted, so I can’t wait to see how it inspires your writing.
    I love the surprises you highlight in your poem. These things help keep our curiosity and appreciation for nature burning.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I want to tag along with you and Mary Lee and just listen to the both of you. I so enjoy what comes into your writing from your reading. This year’s project is sure to be fruitful. Enjoy the cold walks in the woods…I hear spring really IS coming…any minute now!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Catherine, I love the surprises you found as you walked through the woods. Nature is always a given to all who observe and listen.The last line of your poem offers time to pause and think.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s