April 12, 2016

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

National Poetry Month Issue 18

National Poetry Month is also spring break for most schools in Maryland.

My Maryland poet of the day is Sonia Linebaugh. "Where Does the Water Go?" looks at a family outing, ending with an observation that could only come from a little one.

A writing prompt follows.

Where Does the Water Go?
by Sonia Linebaugh

The boy grinned at his brother, 
pleased to be out in raincoat 
and boots on a wild wet day, 
socks on his hands to hold back the chill. 
More children arrived, two shy, two adventuresome, 
one in a pack on his father’s back.

The ranger pointed to the 
hard surface of the parking lot, 
glass floating like bubbles in the asphalt. 

The kids splashed in puddles.
Where does the water go?

Adults and kids followed the flow:
a swale with water plants, 
a little ditch, a pipe under the car exit, 
a smaller ditch into a tiny pond 
heaped with sticks at one end, 
too tidy to be the work of beavers.

Humans made this dam 
with a wide slit to let water fall. 
The kids hurried alongside, 
smelling the nearness of Back Creek, 
feeling their way to the Chesapeake Bay.

The ranger talked and pointed. 
Parents smiled with one eye on 
children for signs of boredom or chill. 

The one in the pack slept,
drooling on his father’s shoulder. 
Another peed behind a tree.

The boy with socks on his hands 
held up a fallen leaf as big as his face.
Look, Mommy. The water peed on this leaf.

Posted with permission of the author. 

Writing Exercise:
Every family has  "kids say/do the darndest things" stories. One of ours involves a 75th birthday party, a fudge cake wider than an extra large pizza, and a two year old with fork at the ready.

What makes Sonia's poem rise above family chestnut is the sensory detail of the poem -- socks on the hands, glass bubbles in the asphalt, the baby asleep on dad's back.

For this poem, tell a family story. Try to remember (or imagine) enough detail that the story becomes real for your reader.

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