Friday, August 2, 2013

a roller coaster called kindergarten

As I return to "real" life after a long and fantastic trip to the France and Italy of our extended family, I'm grateful to Mary Lee for wisely reminding me that control is my favorite illusion:

It's the same feeling you get
just after you've nudged the sled
over the shoulder
of the hill.
Movement becomes momentum
and quickly shifts
to catapulting and careening.

You relinquish control
and hold on
for the ride.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2013

I'm also grateful to my father for sending me this poem that he found in the pages of the always stimulating Christian Century magazine.  It reminds me that it's not about the weight of the papers and planning and posters and pencils; the joy in this ride comes from the small mammals strapped in next to you on the roller coaster.

If I become like you, I will write about a roughed grouse | Brian Doyle

If I become like you I will write about a roughed grouse,
Says the boy, five years old, with a face like a chipmunk
Storing up winter browse. We are at his school, where he
And the other small mammals have written things for me
On bright scraps of paper. He hands me his paper and I’ll
Carry it in my wallet the rest of my life. Mister Brian, the
Sun is raining all around, another child says to me. It is up
And down sun, she says. I want to be a cookie when I’m
Your age, says another child. Once we were all monkeys
In skirts made from the skins of trees, says a boy with an
Icicle tattoo. It’s templorary, he says, explaining it to me.

I laugh and he laughs and every kid there starts laughing.
I think I am going to fly up gently into the air over a tree
From joy, as saints used to float when gripped by ecstasy.
That happened to Saint Joseph Cupertino, you remember,
Seventy times, it is said, and now I know why: no gravity.

I hope to make this the last poem written for adults for a good while and challenge myself to do that thing I like best, which is write for kids.  I thank Margaret over at the round-up at Reflections on the Teche for reminding me what a supportive community this is; I think I'm going to need it.

For now, I will lower my expectations a bit.  The title is for the grown-ups, but the poem works for little ones.

On Rearranging the Classroom, Again

It really matters where you sit,
whichever way you look at it.
Choose the middle of the middle;
that way you see it all a little.

Heidi Mordhorst 2013

                                  And here's a photo I came across that I just need to share...


  1. What a surprise to find ME here!!! What an honor to be in the same post with all the joy in Doyle's poem. I must remember to let myself "fly up gently into the air over a tree/From joy" at least seventy times during the upcoming school year.

    Love the deep and simple truths in your rearranging poem.

    And those monks are going to make me giggle to myself all day long!

    Sounds like you've had a fabulous summer. Welcome back. Missed your voice. Looking forward to a year of OIKs.

  2. Heidi,
    WELCOME BACK. I did miss you. Your posts always challenge me. I really enjoyed all three poems.

    But I don't know about sitting in the middle.

    I want to sit in the front, so I can have the best view of the board and be the leader of the pack.
    I'll sit and learn from everyone if I sit in the back.
    Seat me by the door and I can see each person who comes in or if I'm by the
    windows I'll see the weather as it blows in.
    But no matter where I sit, I know it's up to me to try and be the best person I can be and any one who looks will envy me and want to have my seat
    because I've made it
    the best seat in the house.

  3. Thank you for this joyful post, Heidi! Best to you as you make plans for the new year!

  4. I love your poem -- the middle of the middle never made sense before, I was always a far side row student, 2 seats back. ;-) Doyle's poem is exquisite. Thanks for sharing all of these gifts today!

  5. Love your whole collection here. I'm getting ready, but still hanging on to the last few threads of summer. Will hear sounds of students soon, in the halls as well as in my dreams.
    The monks are hilarious. Great post! Thanks for joining in the roundup.

  6. Hi there Heidi, I love all of your reflections here. Reminds me of whyI also chose teaching as a profession. Loved your poem about being in the middle of the middle, how ingenious indeed. Here's to finding our center as school days officially begin! :)


Thanks for joining in the wild rumpus!