Artist: Marilyn Ackerman


Last week I shared the poem I wrote in response to Marilyn Ackerman’s inspiration piece (as part of our participation in Spark!). As her inspiration piece, I sent Marilyn the poem below, which I wrote at the end of the summer, as our middle child headed off to college.


On the eve of your departure

You leave your socks around the house
like snake skins, abandoned
under the table, by the couch, wherever
you happened to be when you kicked
them off. I was never able to break you
of the habit, no matter how many times
I asked. You’re leaving. I’m sitting
with my sadness, trying not to fold it up
and stuff it in a drawer. I wonder
who will go with me to the Lord and Taylor
to make fun of the clothes? Who
will go with me when I get my hair cut? Who
will go with me to the movies no one else
wants to see? It’s days before the answer
comes to me. These moments will curl
into memories, scattered around the house
like socks.

© Elizabeth Steinglass 2019


Marilyn’s response is posted above. I love the tone of the collage, the colors, texture, and movement. It feels somber, hopeful, and complicated to me. It feels a little like a room opening up, and there seems to be a cube leaving the wall. Is that a heart to the left? There’s both stillness and action. I find it fascinating that Marilyn included the bit of music at the bottom because our second child often used to sing and play music, and the house is missing that now.


I am sure I will do Spark again. I hope some of you will join me.

Happy Poetry Friday!


Summer is over, school has begun, and I am happily enjoying more time to write. To kick off the season, I signed up for Spark! Four times a year, organizer, Amy Souza, matches artists and writers who send each other pieces to inspire the creation of new work over 10 days. It’s a fabulous way to find inspiration and community.

I was matched with artist Marilyn Ackerman, who sent me this piece:


I was immediately taken by the man pointing with his very pointy hand at the planet, the green and brown colors, and the materials which appeared to be reused and arranged in a collage. For me the piece pushed me in the direction of thinking about climate change. I often find it challenging to write about issues without being heavy-handed or predictable. I tried a few different approaches that felt either too easy or too pedestrian. For me, this early part of the process is always the hardest. Though I’ve written many, many poems, not knowing how to start can feel stressful. When I wasn’t happy with my first few efforts, I reminded myself I could start over. I tried another option, with the goal of untethering myself from reality a little more. That’s when I came up with this:


What if?

What if the Earth
was small
as a beach ball,
light enough to toss and catch
and tuck in your lap?

What if it was
so small
a butterfly could hover
over continents?

What if we could see
our globe’s white poles dissolving
into pools of blue that nibble
at the edges of green and brown puzzle pieces,
smoke rising from pinpricks,
storms swirling above the surface,
all at once in front of us?

What if we
were as large as gods,
as wise as farmers?
What would we do
with this tossable ball
in our hands?

© Elizabeth Steinglass 2019


Next week I’ll share the inspiration piece I sent Marilyn and her response.

For more Poetry Friday, visit Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong at Poetry for Children. Happy reading!