Welcome to Poetry Friday in December!
Gratitude is the theme the Poetry Sisters chose this month for our original poems. It’s kind of a low-key challenge for those of us who are in the teeth of exams and end-of-year work emergencies, or who, like me, are preparing for the slog of holiday concerts and staying upright and healthy until the final notes are sung. At this point, we’re grateful for small things, like a full night’s sleep, an unexpected packet of tissues in a cardigan pocket, or the umbrella behind the driver’s seat, and not in the trunk. This delightful poet is equally grateful for… earthworms:
by Carl Denis
Aren’t you glad at least that the earthworms
Under the grass are ignorant, as they eat the earth,
Of the good they confer on us, that their silence
Isn’t a silent reproof for our bad manners,
Our never casting earthward a crumb of thanks
For their keeping the soil from packing so tight
That no root, however determined, could pierce it?
Imagine if they suspected how much we owe them,
How the weight of our debt would crush us
Even if they enjoyed keeping the grass alive,
The garden flowers and vegetables, the clover,
And wanted nothing that we could give them,
Not even the merest nod of acknowledgment.
A debt to angels would be easy in comparison,
Bright, weightless creatures of cloud, who serve
An even brighter and lighter master.
Lucky for us they don’t know what they’re doing,
These puny anonymous creatures of dark and damp
Who eat simply to live, with no more sense of mission
Than nature feels in providing for our survival.
Better save our gratitude for a friend
Who gives us more than we can give in return
And never hints she’s waiting for reciprocity.
– (Find the rest at The Poetry Foundation.)
This November I committed to a haiku a day, to help put my mind into the proper frame for Thanksgiving. The Poetry Sisters challenge this month was meant to be a gratitude sonnet – which, while still within my topical scope is a considerable step up in terms of word count. However, since Laura threw down the gauntlet, I (competitively) had to follow suit. Sara was inspired next. Tricia is poem-ing between teaching and stitches, and the rest of the Poetry Sisters will be poetrying through the weekend.
My haiku grew into a brief sonnet – after a little shopping trip which put me in mind of the power of thanks. I hope during this busy season, all of us find this to be true: gratitude greases the wheels, making difficulties and stress easier to bear for everyone.
greasing the wheels
We all have thankful hearts within
Despite the words of thanks unsaid
We’re grateful for what seems built-in –
Convenience, as we move ahead.
The city worker, climbing high
Changing the bulbs or pruning trees.
A cashier’s precise keystrokes fly,
The post arrives as guaranteed.
All gears and cogs, the life we crave
Is fashioned by a thousand hands –
If gratitude no roads will pave,
Its dearth creates a hinterland.
A little wax makes stuck drawers glide:
Likewise, a “thank-you” dignifies.
And here’s a great way to start a new year: The Modesto-Stanislaus Poetry Center is having a New Year’s Poetry Challenge! This year’s NYPC will begin on December 15th. Opt-in via email, and you’ll get your first prompt the night of the 14th! If you’d like to jump in, shoot them an email: Info_at_mostpoetry_dot_org. You will receive a prompt a day for 30 days. You choose to write to all the prompts, some of the prompts, or none of the prompts – it’s all for fun. Toward the end of the 30 days, they’ll put out a call for any poem you’d like to share in an NYPC chapbook.