Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Watching

If Memories

On Monday morning, I opened up the Seedlings living room for poem play. Who knew how many hidden poets were among us, ready to respond if only prompted with a few words...

If memories were sparrows

Of course, since then, I too have been intrigued by those words. What might I make of them? This is what came...

'The Watching'

If memories were sparrows,
mine would gather behind
a house half finished aluminum

sided against the landscape, windows
glazed from the inside out with smoke
of cigarette and venison burning.

They would crowd in lavender lilac,
above the intersection where each year
a robin laid impossible blue eggs,

one of which it seems would always
break, sully the perfect roundness
of a mother's mud-patched efforts

to prevent a deadly cracking. Sparrow
memories would rock limbs, tremble
leaves, blot out the threat of rain

while brown haired girls peered over
rim of tight worked straw to watch
a miracle of twin eggs coming to birth.

[UPDATE: Tonight, my sister Sandra sent me this beautiful poem— another lift, a twin, a side window. Makes me wish for a Stone Crossings of sorts from her own hands.


If memories were sparrows,
mine would cluster in the thick
of forest pine bravely stretching

high into the skyscape, branches
broad and twisted, gently worn from
passage of youth’s strong limbs.

They would crowd in treetop perches,
staring down on murky pond face
where fallen cones go to sleep

with black tadpoles whose bodies
morph, from slippery slivers to
croaking fullness, reminding us

to avoid an angry wind. Sparrow
memories would chase salamanders
orange and dry under summer sun

while brown haired girls twitter
bare feet squishing in the mud
that sparkles with broken glass.

— Sandra

Thank you ALL, for taking words that began here and stringing them with hopes, humors, dreams, imaginings and longings of your own. There is still time if you have not yet crafted a poem or want to add to our communal poem (please post all entries by Thursday night, either here in the comment box or on your blog). Then, on Friday, we will have our grand finale at High Calling Blogs.

Katrina's If Memories Were Sparrows
23 Degree's If Memories Were Sparrows
Nikki's trio of memory poems
Sherri Watt
Nancy's poem
Mom2Six's I Start, You Finish
Laure's The 10 O'Clock Evening Hour
Rain's If Memories Were Sparrows
Heather, of Off the Beaten Path
Lorrie's If Memories Were Sparrows
Erica's If Memories Were Sparrows: Playing with Poetry
Joy's The Great Poem Caper
Prairie Chick's Memories
Joelle's If Memories Were Sparrows
Kim's If Memories Were Sparrows
Daune's If Dreams Had Wings Like a Sparrow
Emily's If Memories Were Sparrows
Bought 'As Is' If memories were sparrows...

Memories, mixed media art by Gail Nadeau. Used with permission.

High Calling Blogs RAP: Poem Play

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Blogger Katrina said...

I love where you took this!

It has been fascinating to see where each person's mind travels from the same first line.

I like your third paragraph the best... brings back my own cherished memories...

3:01 PM  
Blogger Billy Coffey said...

Does this mean there is a poet lurking somewhere in us all, buried beneath piles of cannot?

3:40 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

So beautiful. Enough of a glimpse of those brown-haired girls to make me want more...

This has been so much fun. I think I agree with Billy: We can all be poets under your tutelage!

Re: the book. The content of our self-talk is something that--I think--is well worth writing many books about.

But I know this--Yours will be different. Your way with words touches beneath the surface. There are helpful books, and then there are transforming books.

Guess which one I believe yours will be?

3:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so good :-)

4:09 PM  
Blogger 23 degrees said...

Thanks for invite, Laura, this was much fun.

Your poem brought back a flood of images and feelings from Stone Crossings. (I may have to read it again for the third time.)

The phrase, "crowd in lavender lilac" reminds me of the giant lilac bushes that were in my grandmothers back yard.

10:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed reading everybody's different poems, the first line was excellent, really immediately got my mind going:)

1:37 AM  
Blogger Lorrie said...

Fabulous! I can see the brown haired girls peering over the rim of tight worked straw...

Makes me happy :-)

6:56 AM  
Blogger RissaRoo said...

I loved your poem! The imagery is powerful. I really like that opening line...the comparison between memories and sparrows got me thinking and I've been chewing on the idea all week. I've finally written something, but I feel like I could write a dozen poems with that first line...and I have enjoying reading what others have been doing with it!

9:42 AM  
Blogger Joy said...

I have loved reading all the is fascinating to see where the words have changed, transformed, turned.

I am trying to convince Rebekah she should too...hopefully I'll succeed!

Here's my attempt:

10:40 AM  
Blogger Lucille said...

Thank you for your visit. The picture you liked was
'The Moon' by Howard Hodgkin. I think I've missed the bus with Sparrows but I'm doing it anyway.

3:31 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

I ran out of time to participate this week, but have enjoyed reading all the poetic mini-feasts on offer here. :)

One of our favorite family activities for road trips is the communal, round-robin story. Each person gets 4-5 sentences then it's the next bloke's turn. Always hilarious how the stories end up (and how some people just keep pressing their plot points whenever their turn comes around, no matter how hard we all try to shift gears! Story pirates, we call them.)

I left a comment over on High Calling in place of actual poetic offerings.

5:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i did a finish of the one marcus started, and posted it.

what fun...let's do this again!

6:35 PM  
Blogger Lynet said...

I like your take on this, LL. I have to admit, my first reaction was basically this:

If memories were sparrows,
then God would see them fall,
fold the pain up in mercy,
and keep the happiness for you.

But my memories are cats.
They walk by themselves.
They have claws. Still,
they consent to cuddles.

9:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If memories were Sparrows
Spiked tails flashing
Black across the sky


Or Mourning Doves
Red velvet down
Upon the snow


Remember how
The birds were eaten
By the sky


And then alone
After the melted snow
Lay down


10:14 PM  
Blogger Ann Voskamp @Holy Experience said...

Sandra and you are twins... words in the womb waters that you both have birthed here, sister lines.

You both have this seeing thing in your genes...

10:38 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Katrina... it is testament to our incredible uniqueness even as we share something in common. I'd love to hear more about your childhood memories.

Billy... as I said today at HCB, "Indeed."

Laura... you will get more glimpses I'm sure. It is fun, too, to learn together how to be poets. And thank you for your kind words about the next book... made me swallow hard with the sheer generosity of it.

23... I'd like to hear more about that back yard. And I had the same feelings after I wrote this... being taken back into SC I mean. Thanks for your encouragements!

Rain... thanks! I hope we can find other good first lines for the future. : )

Lorrie... children peering. A comfort, yes.

Erica... so many images still lurking in this mind, of that place that was both destroyer and nurturer.

Joy... thanks for playing along. I loved your unique rhythms!

Lucille... let me know if you get on the bus. :)

Erin... story pirates. Funny!

Lynet... loved the twist. :)

Anonymous... oh. Where do I begin? Your poem haunted me all through the night. So many layers. The memories seem ominous, and yet. The "be" "still" is a almost a chant, a solace. It is wings beating, or heart beating, or life's predictable rhythm even in the face of trauma. The poem is both despair and hope. The "stillness" both a calmness and an ache of memories that yet persist. I love this poem. So unusual. Like I said, haunting.

Ann... I'm thinking that we see because we lived free in the woods, always searching, always feeling, touching, being touched by the landscape. Maybe. I love the way you put it and thank you.

9:46 AM  
Blogger Lucille said...

If memories were sparrows,
they'd line up shoulder to shoulder
on my neighbour's gutter,
and undistinguishable,
cheeping flatly for recognition.
One brown, black, pinky buff
much like another
when countless days have flocked.
Flitter senselessly
from twig to twig,
searching for a perch
in the present.
Lighting on one in the past.
Then disturbed by sudden sound
Scatter, re-settle,
and blackly beady-eyed.

10:19 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I did it! Too late, but then again, it's never too late...
thanks for the encouragement;)
Different title, but, no biggie...
God is working!
Have a great day.

9:52 AM  

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