Sunday, January 27, 2019

ODT #3

How many ways can it be said?  I seem to be collecting poems that capture the paradox of this exquisite, excruciating life.  Found this one in a comment left by Amy LV at Tara Smith's host post.

Adrift | Mark Nepo

Everything is beautiful and I am so sad.
This is how the heart makes a duet of
wonder and grief. The light spraying
through the lace of the fern is as delicate
as the fibers of memory forming their web
around the knot in my throat. The breeze
makes the birds move from branch to branch
as this ache makes me look for those I’ve lost
in the next room, in the next song, in the laugh
of the next stranger. In the very center, under
it all, what we have that no one can take
away and all that we’ve lost face each other.
It is there that I’m adrift, feeling punctured
by a holiness that exists inside everything.
I am so sad and everything is beautiful.

Friday, January 25, 2019

recess today

Second-grade recess is hairy at this time of year.  For one thing, there's not as much outdoor recess, and sometimes it's "blacktop only" because of the snow or mud conditions.  For another, the Great 2nd Grade Shift is in full swing.  Here's a summary of what's going on cognitively and socially inside kids who are turning 8:

And I'm afraid it's true what you're hearing about the effect of 2D screentime on children's brains.  Kids are now generally less able to play with peers in ways that don't have external structure, less apt to improvise, less skilled in the collaborative negotiation that underpins pretend play.

I recently had to engineer an extra recess so that a complicated and loaded wedding scenario could be played out.  Once I got the important questions out in the open ("Do you want to be IN the wedding, watch the wedding, or ignore it?") I sat back and let it roll.  Very few kids wanted to be IN it in the end, but those who did discovered that they could get "married" and then go off and play house and car and pets and shopping and parties.  They were surprised and exhilarated to discover new collaborators and new identities. It was totally worth the "lost" 20 minutes of instructional time. 😏

The following poem was also influenced by a date night with my spouse at an Improvisational Comedy workshop.  Here's to "Yes, and..."! 

Recess Today

“I’m tired of basketball,” I said,
“and tag and running everywild.
Let’s play Families instead.”
My friend Benita stopped and smiled.

“Let’s make our house under the slide!
You be the mom; I’ll be the child.”
“Yes,” I said,” and let’s ask Clyde
to be our dog!” So then we piled

some woodchips up as best we could
and made a bed for Clyde the dog.
We played that we lived in the woods
and hunted berries in the fog.

Logan asked if she could play.
She helped us drag a heavy log
to make a couch, and then she stayed.
We read her Lego catalog.  

Our family grew again when Chance
knocked on the slide and said, “Hello.
I’m Grandpa visiting from France.”
“Come in,” we said. “We have to go

out to a wedding by the lake.”
The seesaw was a car we borrowed.
Of course the wedding all was fake.
I hope we play again tomorrow.

draft ©Heidi Mordhorst

Perhaps you'd now like to scroll down for my surprise midweek post, "Day of Service." The roundup today is hosted by Tara at Going to Walden. Borrow a seesaw and get on over to somewhere in the world!

Friday, January 18, 2019

"amazed of the nature"--habitat poems by 2nd graders

Long post today! First, want to publicly acknowledge the gift of poet Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, who gave 20 very full minutes of her precious time to two classes of 2nd graders yesterday via Zoom.  Thanks to the dedicated efforts of my media specialist, @JoelaPaik, the technology worked beautifully and those kids are marked by the blessing of her poetry and her personhood forever.  Thanks, Amy!

Last Poetry Friday in Room 203 was a day with more gorgeous than bitter (it always is).  Again this year (see past projects 2017 here and here 2018), after quite some time spent researching and writing informational brochures about a range of world habitats, the Diamond Miners enjoyed some inspiration from the books pictured below as well as FOOTPRINTS ON THE ROOF by Marilyn Singer, and then set to work.

AFRICAN ACROSTICS by Avis Harley, FOREST HAS A SONG by Amy LV, WATER SINGS BLUE by Kate Coombs and, importantly, REJOICE: RAINFOREST POEMS by 3rd Graders (Scholastic Kids Are Authors series)

 Habitat brochures & poems:  I dislike the blank spaces but there is only so much catching up I can organize...

As always there were a couple who had trouble getting started--but only a couple and only a little!  Most kids understood that they were going to use all the knowledge they had accumulated through research to inform a poem and went to work with very definite ideas. And as always, I consider it evidence that my Poetry Friday routines are effective that every kid felt able to strike out on their own to act as "the boss of their poem."  I find that Poetry, in contrast to its bad rep for making people feel dumb and inadequate, Is Empowering for kids.

We started our workshop off with a shared acrostic involving ALL the habitats students had researched.  I'm particularly struck by the effectiveness of this year's acrostic poems--there were two that I actually didn't recognize WERE acrostics until I went to type them!  Today's project is to illustrate; I'll add those into the post over the weekend somehow.                      HABITATS
                      an acrostic poem by The Diamond Miners
                                             Have you seen
                                             A gila in the desert?
                                             Blue shiny waves
                                              In the ocean?
                                             Trees towering
                                             And expanding in the forests?
                                             Tall grasses waving over wildebeest in the
                                             Savannah?  Have you seen habitats?

And now, here are the students' poems!

Forests Spread
    by Chris M.

Forests spread
until the sun gets
low and low   The
leaves look dark
Fantastic trees
look at the sun
while it is getting
low    Green leaves

 by Isabella ZR 

Deserts are hot
what can I do? I might melt
on the sizzling sand
You know why! I might burn
myself!!! but some
have snow.  I might go!
Will I see snow?


 by Ethan F.

rivers are   smooth   soft

relaxing   sometimes rivers

grow   no one knows when they

Tall Grasses Dance
by Siddhartha Dangol

tall grasses dance in the
wind   they dance all
night and day  
never stop  never stop  
they like to stay in the light
and night    never stop
tall grasses always dance
in the grassland every
day    never stop at all.

     by Christian W.

Open blue sea
Covering the land   I’m the
Emperor of the sea
Amazed of the
Nature of the sea.

    by Ashly AM

forests are covered
with orange and red
in fall
forests are covered
with green and yellow
in summer

In the Desert
 by Kymani F.

in the desert
the wind blows hot
in the desert it prickles
and it tickles
the sand and the cactus
in the desert

 by Hannah D.

Really hot
Animals everywhere
In the rainforest
Noisy and quiet
Finding things to eat
Organic habitat
Really calm
Expanding trees
So much rain
The plants so pretty

Forest Is
 by Matthew H.

Forest is green and
brown and blue
vines on trees and
leaves and bears
wood and lakes

by Ezra W.

a grassland is
covered with grass
as tall as a zebra’s
covered with animals
like hyenas

by Bruce H.

Day after day it is hot.
Every monster can be dangerous.
See if you can touch one?
Evenings animals hunt for food,
Ringing on houses for prey.
There is not much rain.

    by Emma D

      r i p p l i n g
rain on the leaves
          on the
        into the
      g r o u n d


Thunderstorm in the Savannah

by Corwin R.

is coming
in the savannah
fire and rain
on the hill
with the
ant mound

Rain Forest Research
 by Jadeline Z.

      Rainforests don’t get snow!
      But why?  You need to know!!!
You can look at a book.
What about PebbleGo?
Fine, but where’s the computer?
I lost it.  What?!!!

In the Desert
 by Heidy R.

in the desert
it burns my feet
the weather is windy 
the wind blows the sand

by Aydin T. 

Water rippling shiny & blue.
Ocean splashing fiercely on shore.
Waves crashing & splashing.
Thunderstorm’s a comin’!
Water smooth, water calm.
Thunderstorm’s all gone! 

And finally, I must mark the passing of one of our quietest yet greatest voices in poetry, Mary Oliver. I believe she would have enjoyed these poems by 7- and 8-year olds, and certainly, through me, their voices are influenced by hers. In memoriam...

by Mary Oliver

The spirit
   likes to dress up like this:
     ten fingers,
       ten toes,
shoulders, and all the rest
   at night
      in the black branches
         in the morning
in the blue branches 
    of the world.
       It could float, of course,
          but would rather
plumb rough matter.
   Airy and shapeless thing,
      it needs
         the metaphor of the body,
lime and appetite,
   the oceanic fluids;
      it needs the body's world,
 and imagination
   and the dark hug of time
       and tangibility
to be understood,
   to be more than pure light
      that burns
         where no one is --
so it enters us --
    in the morning
       shines from brute comfort
          like a stitch of lightning;
and at night
   lights up the deep and wondrous
      drownings of the body
         like a star.
The roundup today is with Tricia at the Miss Rumphius Effect.  Let us mourn and rejoice together. 

Friday, January 11, 2019

ODT for kids

The bitter, gorgeous paradox 
for 2nd graders.

The Day (after "The Year" by Ella Wheeler Wilcox)

Did you have a good day, dear?
What happened today?

Chocolate milk spilled on my desk.
It got inside. It was a mess.

I made a card for Kim's sick mother.
She looked happy so I made another.

At recess Chris wouldn't play with me.
I went off by myself and discovered a tree.

My math was hard, so hard I cried.
Ms. P explained it. She was proud I tried.

My day was good but also bad--
the most normal day I've ever had.

draft ©Heidi Mordhorst

Now you can enjoy this song (and my personal day will be more gorgeous if I'm introducing it to someone who's never heard it) while you head over to the Roundup Downunder with Kat Apel.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

not OLW but ODT

not my actual dishes, but close
I just went back to see what my One Little Word for 2018 was and found that I didn't choose one.  I think I passed, knowing that I have had a hard time keeping my eye on it for a whole year and feeling slightly fraudulent and failed for taking the trouble to choose a OLW and then losing track of it almost immediately.  It's like embarking on a diet on January 2 and finding on January 3 that you have already blown it.  I have given up that kind of diet, that kind of New Year's resolution, because "resolve" and "will-power" are demons that distract me from One Difficult Truth.

It is this One Difficult Truth that, thanks to time, hurt, reality and Anne Lamott I will have no option but to attend to every single day forever, since it is the essence of every single day.  This is the paradox that you, Dear PF Friend, may have understood since your childhood spent in a bakery instead of a hardware store (you'll have to read Almost Everything: Notes on Hope to get that, although it's such a brilliant metaphor that you might grasp the meaning immediately).

This is the paradox of two truths about life that are bruisingly, simultaneously true at every moment of every day:  life is excruciating AND beautiful.  In each moment, at the same time as I am despairing deeply about the number of children separated and detained in cold metal "facilities," I may also be stirred by a freshet of joy, what Anne calls a "giddy appreciation" for a small, lovely satisfaction, such as how this year the number of holiday cookies was just right for the length of the holiday-cookie-eating season.

I know--duh.  But as Anne says, that all truth is paradox is "distressing for those of us who would prefer a more orderly and predictable system," a more black-and-white reality in which we could know we were Right, in which it's possible to Fix It.  I spent a lot of time and effort in my days as a young parent trying to solve the Dishwasher Problem, which was that no matter what system we devised for processing dirty dishes into clean ones neatly stacked in cupboards, THE KITCHEN WAS ALWAYS STREWN WITH DIRTY DISHES.  Really, I thought that there was some clever, simple way to fix this, if only I could discover or devise it, and it has taken me literally 20 years to understand that the only way to avoid dirty dishes is to stop eating.

And of course, to stop eating, to stop gathering for a hilarious, fraught family dinner as often as is practical, is a recipe for the end of humanity.

All this must be why I keep posting and reposting this old-fashioned poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.  She understood the paradox of the Dishwasher Problem even before dishwashers were invented, and she didn't even need a fancy metaphor to say it--only a few not especially clever rhymed lines.

I'm sure I still have loads of raging to do against the bitter and gorgeous paradox that is every moment of every day for those who have the wisdom and fortitude to see it.  It's making me exhausted and even depressed to be so wise.  But---

My injured foot healed in time for me to dance on New Year's Eve to "What I Like About You," and as we went around the circle after recess to practice naming our emotions, two 2nd graders said "Today I'm feeling happy because we are back at school," and my spouse took the trouble to find MacIntosh apples at the grocery store, and although these freshets of joy dry up fast when I listen to the news or notice the way my eyelids have drooped so that my boring blue-grey eyes barely sparkle anymore, at least I know this is normal.

I'm late to the roundup today, hosted by Sylvia at Poetry for Children, but I know I'll always feel a giddy appreciation by being a part of it.  Happy excruciating and exquisite 2019 to all.