What tracks have I left?

A beautiful poem was on The Writer’s Almanac for Sunday, March 16, 2008.  it is written by Marge Piercy and is called “Tracks”.  It is published in The Crooked Inheritance, publisher – Alfred A Knopf, 2006.  I had it all ready to paste here and then thought better of it considering copyright laws.  Here is the link to this edition of The Writer’s Almanac:  http://www.elabs7.com/c.html?rtr=on&s=fj6,8whp,dv,bdmy,gg6t,gmsw,i7ij

Please have a listen.  It begins with a description of the tracks the birds have left in the snow and goes on to consider what tracks the author has left for the creatures and people around her.

This poem would be a wonderful springboard for anyone’s writing, especially mine.  Even if I don’t get around to using it for direct inspiration, it is just a lovely, lovely warm evocative piece.  Ahhhhhhhh.

On second thought, the e-mail from The Writer’s Almanac suggests that I forward it to a friend so. . .

My friend, I’m forwarding this poem to you:

Poem: “Tracks” by Marge Piercy from The Crooked Inheritance. © Alfred A. Knopf, 2006. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)


The small birds leave cuneiform
messages on the snow: I have
been here, I am hungry, I
must eat. Where I dropped
seeds they scrape down
to pine needles and frozen sand.

Sometimes when snow flickers
past the windows, muffles trees
and bushes, buries the path,
the jays come knocking with their beaks
on my bedroom window:
to them I am made of seeds.

To the cats I am mother and lover,
lap and toy, cook and cleaner.
To the coyotes I am chaser and shouter.
To the crows, watcher, protector.
To the possums, the foxes, the skunks,
a shadow passing, a moment’s wind.

I was bad watchful mommy to one man.
To another I was forgiving sister
whose hand poured out honey and aloe;
to that woman I was a gale whose lashing
waves threatened her foundation; to this
one, an oak to her flowering vine.

I have worn the faces, the masks
of hieroglyphs, gods and demons,
bat-faced ghosts, sibyls and thieves,
lover, loser, red rose and ragweed,
these are the tracks I have left
on the white crust of time.

Published in: on March 16, 2008 at 9:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

The BEST lessons

It’s been one of those days – one of those surprising delightful days when you’re glad that you’re a second grade teacher who makes her children write. It had been a while since we had EVERY student read something they wrote and it seemed as though EVERY student wanted to read today, so, EVERYONE read today.

Each piece was different from the last. I told them I was grading on speaking and listening as well as some simple grammar, so the audience was quite attentitve. We heard about dogs and cats, plans for the upcoming spring break and some hopes for summer break. There were no ‘love’ stories (I love my mom and my dad and my Hamster Joey. . .). Glory be!

One student started reading a piece about going to the beach with some other students (ficticious) and he did a simple, interesting thing. He described the clothes the students were wearing as they walked. The girls were wearing shorts and “shirts with no sleefs” and boys had on shorts and t-shirts with button shirts open over them. As I listened, at first I thought that that was a boring detail, until I suddenly had a picture in my head of them walking the beach. Isn’t that a strategy I try to teach in Reading?

Then the heroes of our story had goggles and hair bows pop out of their shirts. Well, I exchanged glances with the little girl next to me and we BOTH could tell that we had the SAME picture in our heads: the boys with hair bows! Of course, it was explained that the boys gave the bows to the girls, laughter ensued.

This story did more for my class and I than any mini-lesson I had given. When our writer finished, I asked if anyone else could picture them all walking on the beach. (Yes.) Did anyone else picture the boys wearing hair bows? (yes, ha ha ha) By adding a simple description of what the characters were wearing, the whole story came alive for everyone.

I can’t wait until tomorrow. I KNOW we’ll have a lot of over-the-top descriptive writing for a while. They’ll start describing every little thing and get bogged down in details. GREAT! HALELUJAH! Once they obsess on it for a while, they’ll tone it down. Now though, they can see how taking the time to describe something can really add to the impact of the story.

It’s days like this that make if all worthwhile and so exciting. Oh yes, the student who wrote the description? His parents happened to come to lunch today and brought me a diet strawberry limeade, light ice from Sonic too! How sweet it is!

Published in: on March 11, 2008 at 6:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Borrowed Questions

Questions from Amrick’s Articles, via Kirsten’s Korner that seemed like fun:

How would someone find you in a crowd? Easy question. I’ve been embarassing my children for years and calling my second graders in from recess with my absurdly loud whistle. I’ve always said my kids would know where I am in an emergency. Just listen for the whistle. (This skill is totally lost on most Southern women who find it disgusting to put fingers in your mouth and whistle, but there you go — I’m no Southern Belle)

If you had a secret room in your house, what would be in it? Another easy one. Since I was little I used to think about what the perfect house would have: a trampoline room of course! Now though, with age, things have started to fear gravity so I think a big bath with lots of jets, bubbles, big screen TV with TIVO and some way to read a book without getting the book wet would be great.

Where do you like to walk from your house? The big pond, the little pond and garden — with my cats that think they’re dogs.

How will you change as you grow? If I get much fatter, I’ll explode, so I suppose I’d better get thinner. I hope to learn from young people all the time. I will get stronger and stronger glasses so I can keep on reading.

What kid of animal would you like to be? A house cat that lived in a house like mine. purrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Thanks question people.

Published in: on March 10, 2008 at 7:44 pm  Leave a Comment  


One of our spelling words this week was “unfortunate”. When told that he received a 100 on his test, I had a discussion with the 100 maker about the aforementioned spelling word. He said he found it difficult but was glad he had gotten it right. We talked about the difference between fortunate and unfortunate and fortune in general.

This week has definitely been all about fortune for me. Russell, college junior, was home on spring break (fortunate) but then left for a roadtrip to Galveston (unfortunate) and stopped at Rice University (where my sweetie and I met) and was enamored with the school and interested in grad school there (fortunate). He came home safely on Thursday and discovered that the state of Utah had already issued his tax refund of $179 (HUGE fortunate for impoverished college student). Then, it was my turn. I opened my mail and found a REALLY BIG check from my cancer policy (fortunate?) due to my husband’s round of radiation in the fall (unfortunate, but completed with a fortunate outcome). Nell, high school junior, left for the state DECA convention Wednesday (unfortunate since I miss her, but fortunate since I finally get to drive my car instead of letting her take it to school). Thursday, she reported that she and her teammate had come in first place in their role play event on web design (gleefully fortunate). Friday, brought news that they had placed first for the whole web design shootin’ match and that they would be going to nationals in Atlanta (big brain fortunate wee hah).

Winning a financial prize for my husband’s illness has to be one of the weirdest bits of fortune I have ever experienced. Thank goodness for my children. Their good fortune warms my cockles more than any check. I am very fortunate that I can share their triumphs and live a wee bit vicariously through them. I can’t wait to see what’s around the corner for them!

Published in: on March 9, 2008 at 1:52 am  Comments (1)  
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