The Wisdom of a Teacup

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The Wisdom of a Teacup

What does a teacup know?

One fine dress is all you need.
Waiting gives you time to dream.
You are your best company.

What does a teacup know?

A steaming cup draws people in,
slows down time, and warms a chill.
Those well-loved bear a well-loved chip.

 

I’ve been enjoying this month’s celebration at Michelle Heidenrich Barnes’ Today’s Little Ditty. Each month Michelle invites a poet to give the rest of the poetry-writing community a challenge. In early January Joyce Sidman invited the writing of “deeper wisdom” poems, modeled after her beautiful example, “What Do the Trees Know?” Many writers have already accepted the challenge and written wonderfully about snow, wind, seeds, stars, even hens.

I thought I’d give it a try too, but I wanted to go in a different direction and explore something less grand and less natural. Perhaps because I spend the winter holding one, I went with teacup. I’m not that happy with the outcome (I’m ambivalent about the slant rhymes and the meter of the last line and the general level of abstraction.) but I did find myself saying to my daughter, “I know that because I’m a teacup,” which we both found absurdly hilarious. So, in honor of this poem, I’d like to propose a teacup toast to all those poems that don’t work out quite as well as we hoped they would.

For more Poetry Friday wisdom, visit Tara at A Teaching Life.

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Look what’s in my saucer! These belonged to my husband’s grandmother. Aren’t they wonderful?

Beach Magician

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Beach Magician

With nothing
up his sleeve
but a brainless foot,
this mundane clam
does the ultimate trick:
tipping his jelly bean shell on end,
he disappears
into the sand.

 

We saw these little clams, called coquina, on the beach in Marco Island, Florida over the holiday. Their disappearing trick looked both magical and ridiculous. See?

For more Poetry Friday, visit Irene Latham at Live Your Poem!

Our Favorite Holiday Books

Today I want to share some of our family’s favorite holiday books. My kids are too old for them now, but when I bring them up from the basement every year, the three of them squeal or sigh and sit down to read.

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Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel, illustrated by Trina Schart Hymn

Let me begin by saying that I have read this book thousands of times, during the cold dark nights of the season and the bright warm nights of summer. My kids, especially my daughter, loved this book. The goblins are creepy and by the end downright scary, but Hershel cleverly outsmarts them again and again.

 

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Herbie’s Secret Santa written and illustrated by Petra Mathers

This is one of my all-time favorite picture books because it addresses a side of life that is so real and so rarely mentioned. Herbie makes an impulsive mistake. He feels bad about it, and he makes amends. Like the other books about Herbie and his dear friend Lottie, it’s authentic and quirky. Of course Vince is making Christmas pickles. Doesn’t everyone? To me this story feels deeply connected to the essence of the holiday.

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The Trees of the Dancing Goats written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco

I love this book because it acknowledges that people who celebrate Christmas and people who celebrate Hannukah live together as neighbors and friends (and even family members). When scarlet fever rages through their town, the central family celebrates their traditions and enables their sick friends to celebrate theirs. This is a deeply respectful and caring story.

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The Gift of Nothing written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell

This book has charming characters (Mooch and Earl from the comic strip Mutts), clever language play, and in the end gets to the heart of what’s really important about sharing “special days.” It’s just been adapted into a musical, which I hope to see despite being well over the recommended audience age of 4.

 

I hope that you enjoy your holiday (no matter what you celebrate) and get to share it with loved ones and books.

For more Poetry Friday vist Buffy Silverman at Buffy’s Blog.

Unseasonably Cold

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26°

Like a virus it crawls
along your skin
casting about for an easy
way in, like the holes
in your nose, which it finds
like a door you’ve oddly forgotten
and left unprotected.
It travels your length
on a highway of bones,
freezing your insides
down to your soul,
until all you can do
is shiver and moan
and retreat to the bed
you should never have left.

 

I’m heading to a soccer tournament today. Can you guess how I feel about the cold? I hope you’re keeping warm and don’t have 9 feet of snow outside your door.

For more Poetry Friday visit Becky Shillington at Tapestry of Words.

A Pumpkin’s Point of View

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A Pumpkin’s Plea

I sit on the stoop,
meditating and waiting.
I don’t know who I am
or which way I’m facing.

I hope you’ll come soon
with a sharp silver blade
to hacksaw my head
and muck out my brain.

I’m desperate for eyes
like sad gaping moons
or slightly tipped triangles
threatening doom.

I crave a bright smile
and maybe some teeth—
a couple that dangle
or a set to mince meat.

A nose might make sense,
centered and friendly,
though a smooth empty space
looks disturbing and deadly.

Come, bring your knife.
Don’t make me wait!
I’m scared that you’ll leave me
without any face.

Last year I wrote a poem about my strong desire not to carve my pumpkin. My pumpkin was so perfect, I couldn’t imagine changing it. This year as I sat down to write my annual Halloween poem, I wondered about my pumpkin’s point of view. I suddenly worried: what if my pumpkin had really wanted to be carved?!

© Elizabeth Steinglass, all rights reserved, 2014