She sits
In the shower,
Allowing the water
To rain down,
Soaking her skin,
Sort of the way it did
When she had gills
And lived in it,
Submerged in stories
Without awareness
Of the tick of time
Or the voices
Calling her to the surface.
She had lived in water
And she was made of water
And it passed through her
Leaving life.
That was before she knew
Of air and land
And of crossing between worlds,
Before she knew of birds and foxes
And hands that grabbed,
Before she knew of dryness,
And the need to draw air in
And spit it out again,
Before she knew that life required effort.
Her strongest desire was to leave her eggs
In the water
Where her gilled children
Would live for a time
In a world
Where life and living
Flow seamlessly.
This week–something for the grown-ups.
For more Poetry Friday go to Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids.

(c) 2012 Elizabeth Ehrenfest Steinglass, all rights reserved


Scattered sun drops
Dot the earth
Stretching, reaching toward the sky
With their one black eye
Nose cones pointed way up high
Petals burning sun-burst bright
Ready to rocket
Back to the sun
In the far away sky
(c) 2012 Elizabeth Ehrenfest Steinglass, all rights reserved

For more Poetry Friday go to Paper Tigers.

Tumbling through sunlight

Like a leaf in the wind,
The kite of a fairy
That’s broken its string,
The butterfly waltzes
To the echoes of spring,
Without ever wondering

What’s lifting her wings.

I’ve been watching the swallowtails gather at the butterfly bush. I caught a picture of this one last week. For the poem I thought spring worked better than autumn, so of course I used “poetic license.” Why limit yourself to what actually happened?

For more Poetry Friday go to No Water River.

(c) 2012 Elizabeth Ehrenfest Steinglass, all rights reserved

photo by zimpenfish

Little heads
Without their faces,
Wearing hats,
Going places.

If I don’t write often, I feel rusty. It can be hard to scrape the rust off. I need to read my favorite children’s poets, and I need to go out for a walk. I feel the rhythm of my footsteps, and I look for things to write about. I take my notebook with me and write down ideas and phrases. Yesterday, when I was out walking, I saw acorns all over the sidewalk. This is what they made me think of.

For more Poetry Friday go to Random Noodling.

(c) 2012 Elizabeth Ehrenfest Steinglass, all rights reserved

I know where my lunchbox goes
And I can tie my shoe,
But what I really want to know
Is how to talk to you.
I can read the little words
And I can count by two,
But what I really want to learn
Is how to play with you.
It’s not the reading or the math
That’s hard for me to do.
The hardest thing I do at school
Is sit with someone new.

(c) 2012 Elizabeth Ehrenfest Steinglass, all rights reserved

Last week I was thinking about the first day of school. This week I’ve been thinking about the first week and the things that make school hard. I’ve also been asking myself: What do I really hope my kids will learn this year?

Happy Birthday, Growing Wild!

For more Poetry Friday go to Write. Sketch. Repeat.

summer sun
creeps across the floor
five days more

in the trees
cicadas whisper–
the grind of the bus

back to school:
familiar hallways

assigned seats–
pointy crayons
in neat rows

someone else’s name
in my book

stepping out
on the ice

(c) 2012 Elizabeth Ehrenfest Steinglass, all rights reserved

For more Poetry Friday go to Sylvia Vardell’s Poetry for Children.

photo Sylvia Duckworth

Work in the night
Wrapping the garden in
Silk ribbons, turning peas into


The girls
Unearth the beets.
They pull their hair and scrub
Their cheeks and fill the sink with hands
Dyed pink.


Grow slowly, each
Line slightly longer than
The one before, building up to
The end.


I was reminded of the cinquain by a fellow poet this week, so I went back and read again about Adelaide Crapsey and the form she invented. Crapsey appreciated haiku and invented her own, similar form, the cinquain, which has five lines of two, four, six, eight, then two syllables. After writing many haiku over the summer, I was curious to revisit the cinquain to see how it might feel different to write in a form that was intended for English. I even took one of my haiku from last week and rewrote it as a cinquain. For me the haiku feels like two photographs brushing against one another as they fall, while the cinquain feels like climbing a little hill before jumping off the other side.
For more Poetry Friday go to A Year of Reading

(c) 2012 Elizabeth Ehrenfest Steinglass, all rights reserved

tug the vine

a summer sunshower
harvesting rainbow chard

scrubbed beets
a sink full
of pink hands

a dog
     a splash
          swaying cattails

one more carrot
yanked from the garden
a car starting

August leaves
sag in the afternoon
I count days

(c) 2012 Elizabeth Ehrenfest Steinglass, all rights reserved

We were lucky enough to spend a few days in Vermont with dear friends. The highlight of our trip was harvesting vegetables from the garden–tomatoes, carrots, beets, broccoli, and rainbow chard. The kids especially loved pulling the carrots and beets from the dirt and scrubbing them in the sink. I wrote these haiku when we got home, savoring my memories of those days far from the city. They make quite a contrast to the haiku from June. The end of the summer is in the air. For more Poetry Friday go to Violet Nesdoly/poems.

Small white kitten

In tall dry grass
Staring ahead
With sea blue eyes
I stare back
Wondering why
You lie so still
Until I realize
I step away
But I can’t stop
Seeing your eyes
Staring, still

© 2012 Elizabeth Ehrenfest Steinglass, all rights reserved

What if we rose with the sun and sang each morning,
Sticking our heads through windows or chasing after

Creeks in our nightclothes? What if we rummaged
For our breakfasts under layers of decay? What if

We turned our faces to the sun? What if we ate
Sunlight and drank rainwater? What if our bodies grew

Down into the earth, clutching the soil in our twining toes,
Binding us to one place? What if we lived centuries,

Each year stretching the miles of lives
Underneath our canopy? What if we lived silently?

What if we bloomed pink and purple, yellow or orange
When we got what we needed? What if we

Passed winter curled underground with our families
And our stores of fat and food? What if we scurried

Through life on an endless quest for berries,
Mushrooms, and grubs? What if we were the grubs?

© 2012 Elizabeth Ehrenfest Steinglass, all rights reserved

Last Friday Ruth at There Is No Such Thing as a God-Forsaken Town shared Mary Oliver’s poem How Would You Live Then? I was so taken by the form of the poem with its repeating “what if” questions I wanted to give it a try. As you can see my questions took me in a different direction.

For more Poetry Friday, go to A Teaching Life.