“You Reading This, Be Ready”
Starting here, what do you want to remember?
How sunlight creeps along a shining floor? What scent of old wood hovers, what softened
sound from outside fills the air?
Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you go right now? Are you waiting
for time to show you some better thoughts?
When you turn around, starting here, lift this
new glimpse that you found; carry into evening
all that you want from this day. This interval you spent
reading or hearing this, keep it for life –
What can anyone give you greater than now,
starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?
Ms. Berg’s Grade 7 students heard this poem recently in their study of creative writing. Throughout the 7th grade year, teachers strive to offer students experiences of wish, wonder, and surprise. In thinking how to bring her students into that experience of wonder through writing, Ms. Berg turned to William Stafford.
With inspiration hopefully drawn from that wonder, students went on through the block to write their own poems…
“The Misty Future”
The future lies like a boat floating on a moonlit lake
Deep and unseeable.
It may lie in clogged pipes and skyscrapers with the
noise of yellow taxis and traffic
and sidewalks dotted with gum and cigarette butts
or it may lie on a stage with loud music and a beat
or it may lie on the screen of a camera or the graphs of sound.
But the future is still unpredictable
and a warning label on it may read, “Subject to Change.”
But the future is still slowly advancing like a boat
floating closer and closer to the dock.
“Ode to Frustrating Confusion”
Oh Confusion, you are like winds blowing every which way,
whooshing and whooping over green trees, valleys
dogs barking, wondering how they were led astray.
Oh Confusion, how frustrating you can be!
Pretending to be innocent,
when you’re the reason that I’m frustrated!
Oh Confusion, how decieving you can be,
you wrap me up in whirling winds and toss me to the sea!
Bang! You’re shocked,
It just came to mind,
The day you realize that you will
only live today once. Today.
Like a roar of thunder,
it rumbles on moment,
it’s gone the next
and the next day arrives.
Life never stops,
just keeps on moving,
The previous day,
Never to be seen again.
It’s not worth avoiding,
you will only live this moment once,
Why not take this opportunity,
and live your dream?
The students end the block with self-reflections. “I learned that often poems are stronger than just plain writing. I also learned that there’s a very fine line between poems and stories sometimes,” one 7th grader wrote. “I learned that poetry is a great way of simply and beautifully saying something very complex,” another said. A third wrote: “I learned that I have more poetry in me than I thought.”