Poetry Friday: X is for Hope

I loved the A.P. Biology class I took in high school. Believe it or not, I remember much of what I learned all those years ago. So when I was planning this project, I didn’t have to think twice about the word I would use for x. Xylem was right there, just waiting to be celebrated in a poem. Fast forward to this week of testing, planning for next year, and caring for my family and you have…a very brief poem acknowledging the hard work xylem does.

X is for Hope



Water + xylem + sunlight =


Vibrant or muted,
bursting from stems supported
by strong, thirsty straws

Draft, © Catherine Flynn, 2023

Xylem cells stained red
Nicholas.H.Hale, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Thank you to Laura Purdie Salas for her brilliant book, Snowman – Cold = Puddle, for the inspiration! Please be sure to visit Janice Scully at Salt City Verse for the Poetry Friday Roundup!

Poetry Friday: More Poems of Hope

I am determined to finish my National Poetry Month project, 26 poems of hope. I’m nearing the end of the alphabet and this week am sharing poems for v and w.

V is for Hope



Caterpillars that will soon
transform into fritillary butterflies
feast on the heart-shaped leaves 
of meadow violets,
whose petals of vibrant
purple satin
are fit for a queen’s crown.

Draft © Catherine Flynn, 2023

These violets greet me each morning.

A few weeks ago, I came across the last stanza of “Inversnaid,” by Gerard Manley Hopkins, the last line of which includes the word “weeds.” I originally thought I might write about a woodpecker for w, but decided a Golden Shovel using this line was more appropriate. Hopkins’s poem was inspired by a visit to the town and stream of Inversnaid on the bank of Loch Lomond, which appealed to my Scottish roots.

W is for Hope



Draft, © Catherine Flynn, 2023
Inversnaid Falls by Tim Heaton, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Please be sure to visit Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

Poetry Friday: Hope, Continued

Like last year, my NPM project was a few poems short. My goal was to write 26 poems, one for each letter of the alphabet, for some element of nature that gives my hope. The letter U really stumped me. I went through our old World Book Encyclopedia and came up with ungulate. The only ungulates in my neck of the woods are white-tailed deer. Although the deer don’t usually eat my hostas, and I’ve never hit one with my car, I couldn’t imagine how I would write about deer. Then I startled a rabbit as I walked out the back door one morning earlier this week and she scurried back into the bushes. Hmm. The bushes…the undergrowth.

I thought undergrowth and understory were basically the same thing, but they aren’t. The layers of temperate forests, like what’s left of the forest here in the eastern U.S., correspond to the layers of tropical and temperate rainforests. Each has difference species of plants and animals, of course, but the structure is similar.

It’s also the first Friday of the month, which means the monthly Inkling challenge. Linda Mitchell gave free rein this month when she asked us to:

Write a poem from your O-L-W for 2023
Find a piece of artwork that has a word(s) embedded and write an ekphrastic poem inspired by the piece
Go to Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day (any similar site) and be inspired by a word from there
Just write a poem–about anything that needs to be written

This week, I need to write a poem about undergrowth. I will work on poems for the rest of the alphabet over the coming weeks.

U is for Hope



the undergrowth
at the edge of the woods
teems with life:

birds forage for seeds 
and insects,

bees gather nectar
and pollen,

cottontails hide 
in a tangle of branches

and an oak sapling
finds a ray of sunlight,
and reaches toward the sky.

Draft, © Catherine Flynn, 2023

Be sure to visit Linda Baie at Teacher Dance for the Poetry Friday Roundup, then read how the other Inklings responded to Linda’s challenge here:

Heidi Mordhorst
Linda Mitchell
Molly Hogan
Mary Lee Hahn
Catherine Flynn