Some weeks, inspiration is my constant companion, but some weeks pass with no sparks or flickers. This week was the later. I finally cranked out a few haikus yesterday because I had to write something. Of course, my haikus are about vegetables. When you live on a farm and constantly discuss the different vegetables with your husband, vegetables don’t just creep into your thoughts, they are houseguests who become family members. Enjoy my veggie themed haikus!
I’ve read Robert Frost’s “Desert Places” every day this week. I love the imagery and have been especially moved by the fourth stanza. I co-opted his rhyming scheme for a poem I wrote this week, which was strange because my poems usually don’t rhyme. As I re-read “Desert Places”, I kept finding different alliteration patterns that added to the mood and meaning of his poem, creating a lyrical quality. My poetry doesn’t have this sense of details yet, but hopefully by studying some of the greats, I can learn. Even if you don’t read my poem, read and re-read “Desert Places”, you’ll be moved.
By: Robert Frost,
Snow falling and night falling fast, oh, fast
In a field I looked into going past,
And the ground almost covered smooth in snow,
But a few weeds and stubble showing last.
I wrote this poem in my head while doing little tasks around the lab that didn’t require my full mental attention. I think a lot about what a strange environment a science lab is. It’s not the environment of the stereotypical “mad scientist”, it’s just a work environment with a lot of sterile equipment and chemicals. But the work done in the lab is still peculiar; all these little tasks to understand minute details of the universe. There’s something incredible about understanding the universe in great detail, but also, at least for me, something unbelievable.
The other day, I smelled diesel exhaust and was instantly reminded of my time in East Africa. This also happens with fire smoke and sometimes, depending on the season, with rain. I’ll be physically present in one place and mentally across the globe all because of a smell, an invisible tug on my memory.
Several years ago, I found myself inexplicably drawn to canning, despite never canning, perhaps because of an unknown thread between my grandma and myself, a thread now materialized through her gift of her water bath canner.
Before I left South Dakota,
Grammy lead me to the basement,
into the laundry room with shelves
of holiday glassware,
assorted kitchen gadgets,
stacked cans of green beans and corn,
and placed in my hands, her water bath canner,
an inky, midnight-blue pot
with white speckles like constellations.
It jostled and rattled in the backseat
on the bumpy roads to Michigan.
With the passing of my grandpa on March 5, I realized I had lost three out of my four grandparents. Reflecting on his life led me to also reflect on the lives and deaths of my other grandfather and grandma that I have lost.
The one who left first.
Slowly evaporating, breathless among tubes
as her husband told and retold
their first meeting in Texas
when he was a charismatic flyboy
and I paced hospital corridors,
wondering how Christmas
would now work.
baptized me into new acquaintance
Sonja, my younger sister, is a joy and a blessing to all who cross her path. One of my deepest pleasures in life is to be her sister. She has shaped me into a more patient, compassionate person. On April 17, she was honored by her boss and advocate, Colleen and by the mayor of Sioux Falls with not only an award celebrating her volunteer work but also a proclamation that April 17, 2018, is Sonja Swenson Day. To truly celebrate Sonja Swenson Day in style, there would have had to be adorable babies to love on, puppies to snuggle and cookie-dough blizzards for all. I am proud to be the sister of Sonja. To honor Sonja Swenson Day 2018, here is a poem about my galactic sister.
Daughter of the star-breather,
cloaked in Celestial Powers,
enlightening the planet in the glow
of a full moon.