Poetry Roundup

September 27th, 2012

No poems today, people, but poets talking about poems and poetry.

Here’s a very interesting – and useful – interview with Dorianne Laux in Sliver of Stone Magazine; Traci Brimhall on writing Our Lady of the Ruins (and more) (thanks for that link, Andrea!); at the Huffington Post, an interview with Marie Howe, the newly-named poet laureate of New York; and at the Indiana Review blog, five marks of oft-rejected poems.

Oh, okay, here’s a poem: Absence by Joe Wilkins over at Linebreak because my god I love Joe Wilkins.

Summer is ending

September 21st, 2012

There’s fog in the mornings now, sometimes just threads of cotton candy curling around the hills, sometimes so heavy I can’t see our nearest neighbors 500 meters across the fields. It burns off slowly, as the sun rises, and by nine o’clock, most days, I can see the church steeple in the village. But I know what this morning fog means, in this part of Switzerland: summer is coming to an end and soon will come days and days when we’re socked in with fog, when the sun is weak and the sky is grey and all the colors will be muted.

Maybe that’s why the Swiss fill their flower pots and window boxes with winter hard Erika – flowering heather that offers up some color through the winter. Winter is better for me now, with the enforced social life that comes with SB’s hockey team and with the time I spend skating outside either at the hockey school or playing pickup hockey with the boys on some rink somewhere, but still – the winter months sit heavy on me and this fog creeping in on cat feet in the morning is my early warning. It’s time to start storing up color. It’s time to put Erika in the flower boxes on the balcony, and in pots by the door.

Poetry roundup

September 20th, 2012

Always, Traci Brimhall:

What They Found in the Diving Bell” at Poets.org

To Poison the Lion” at Blackbird.

Through a Glass Darkly” at Slate (bonus: you can listen to her reading this one).

The Visitation” at iO.

Marney” and “Missing” at The 2River View.


My Swiss life (post 5)

September 17th, 2012

I’m still an outsider, of course. It’s never so clear to me as when I take the boys to the village playground. I don’t really know the other mothers on the playground, except on we recognize each other from picking our kids up from Kindergarten terms, and I don’t really know how to get to know them. There are language barriers, and cultural barriers, and the barriers that exist when everybody but you already knows each other. I’m recognized around the village, am greeted by name in the bakery, but I’m still an outsider here in this small town.

The boys, especially SB, fit right in. They speak native Swiss and can negotiate the playground; thanks to school SB has a lot of pals and when I take the boys to the playground (SB could get there and stay by himself, but Boychen’s not old enough for that yet) he almost always runs into kids he knows to play with. Now, slowly, Boychen too recognizes kids his own age on the playground and, slowly, is starting to try to play with them instead of automatically tagging along after his big brother. The boys are fine, and if people sometimes look at us a bit funny when I speak to them in English, I also know that these same kids are going to be angling for ways to do their English homework with SB in a few years’ time. Preferably at our house.

But I am still an outsider here. Some days, some locations, more than others.

(Previous “My Swiss life” posts can be found here.)

More new beginnings

September 14th, 2012

I should have started with this, of course, after a month-long hiatus: the Boychen started Kindergarten, and SB is in second grade. Second grade. I have a second grader. And a Kindergartener.

I’m curious how Kindergarten will go for Boychen. In some ways, he’s ahead of the game for a Kindergartner. He insists on doing what his brother is doing – when SB’s 7 and 8 year old friends come over to play, there’s Boychen right in the mix not even realizing that he’s small. When SB does his homework, Boychen has to have homework too. I started out by giving him coloring books, or simple “my first get ready for kindergarten” books but Boychen was having none of that. If SB was doing math, then Boychen wanted to do math too and as a result he can do first grade math. If SB had writing practice, then Boychen wanted writing practice too. Yeah, I know. Double-edged sword but you come over here and try telling the Boychen that he can’t do something because he’s too young or too small. No, really. I dare you.

But on the other hand, there are many ways in which Boychen is still clearly four and a half. He’s extremely impatient, and a sore loser (which is really fun when he plays hockey in the garage with his older more experienced brother), and easily frustrated. All pretty normal four and five year old stuff, and exactly the areas Swiss Kindergarten concentrates on. Kindergarten here is all about play and socialization. They don’t learn to read or write or do math. They do art projects, and play, and learn songs and rhymes and have stories read to them. But they are not, not in school. (I’ve written about Swiss Kindergarten and first grade in more detail here.) It’s all about social competence in Kindergarten, and that’s exactly what Boychen needs right about now.

SB started second grade, which means a musical instrument has been thrown into the mix one day a week. SB is playing the recorder (Flöte in German) and on top of school homework he now has to practice the Flöte, too. So far he’s been good about it, though I’ve learned that if we don’t do it right after he finishes his school work there will be a drama when I tell him to do it later. Basically, SB has to do his homework right after lunch before he can go do anything, and I’m drilling it into him now that homework must must MUST be finished before hockey practice. Because hockey practice is only going to get crazier as SB gets older, and I need to drill this rule into him but good.

Hockey. Yes, we’re back in hockey. SB has been in on-ice training since the first week of August and has already had his first games. For that it’s only September, he’s been spending (or is scheduled to spend) a lot of time in the goal. He was goalie for the first tournament – 3 games in one morning – and is scheduled to be in the goal on the 9th and the 16th. TrainerMan clearly has ideas about this kid. And who can blame him, look at my little goalie (in the black jersey in the near goal):

Nice butterfly position, no?

These boys. How they keep growing, finding their way.

Poetry roundup

September 13th, 2012

The Library of Congress is providing a poem a day through the Poetry 180 program. The poems have been selected with high school students in mind, but they’re not juvenile – William Stafford is on the list, and Thomas Lux, and Nick Flynn and Natasha Trethewey. You can find the full list here and sign up to have a link to the day’s poem sent to your in box every day.

Over at Boxcar Poetry Review, Tory Adkisson is writing about “Duende.”

In IthacaLit, Ruth Bavetta’s “Black, White” went right to the core of me.

At Linebreak, Ted Meyer tells us “Where Voices Come From.” If you like good poetry, really just do yourself a favor and sign up for Linebreak’s poems via email. Beauty in your inbox once a week.

This is why

September 10th, 2012

It’s dark when I wake on Sunday morning, dark when I slip into the shower, keeping it short before the sound of the water wakes Boychen. It’s dark when SB stage-whispers “Hello, Mama” to let me know that he is awake even before I need to wake him. It’s dark when I make coffee in the kitchen behind the closed door and tip-toe around the stove scrambling eggs for the Small Boy, hoping we don’t wake anybody. It’s just turning light as I pour black tea into my thermos, hand SB a piece of bread for the car ride, grab my to-go cup of coffee. It’s 6:35 on Sunday morning when we get in the car, the Small Boy and I, shutting our doors softly.

Sonnenaufgang, sunrise.

Hockey today, eight 21-minute games starting at 7:45. The players need to be in the locker room by seven. We’re lucky this time, the tournament is in a neighboring town. We can sleep in a bit, take the time to scramble eggs and eat at the table rather than eating peanut-butter roll-ups in the car.

I do this, bleary eyed, joke-complaining with the other parents in the stadium restaurant at 7:05, because when Small Boy gets on the ice he is ten feet tall. He’s not the best player on the team, he’s not one of those stand-out kids who you can’t help but watch, shaking your head in a kind of wonder (although he’s turning into a mighty impressive goalie). He’s right where he needs to be, safely slotted in the upper-middle, better at some things than at others. But this boy, when he plays hockey, this boy of mine makes me shake my head in a kind of wonder. I can’t get over it, I love to watch him play, watch him discover himself.

This boy of mine, at sunrise.

Just begin

September 7th, 2012

Oh, poor neglected blog readers, if any of you are still out there hello! How are you? (And I actually mean that. How are you?)

I am – all over the map. A leaf in the wind. I’m just going to write. Today, tomorrow, one random story at a time. See where I land when the wind stops.

A fellow hockey mom has a new baby. He’s about three months old and the most contented little thing. He sleeps against his mom’s chest in the baby-wearer through all the practices; he’s been awake at practice all of twice, and I got to hold him. There is also a new hockey daughter who’s about six months old, and I’ve held her, too, while her mom was getting not just one but two boys ready for practice. The old habits come right back – after two of my own they’re so deep in the bone, that up and down foot to foot rocking motion I made a thousand times over and then over again with each of the boys. A soft singing. My cheek to the top of their heads. It’s been surprisingly nice, holding these babies, and the other moms joke I look like a natural, am I getting ideas for another?

No. Not in a million years. Even if I weren’t too old, and too tired, and too logistically stretched to the limit, no. My postpartum depression after Boychen was so crushing that I’m still some days paying for it. Holding these babies feels surprisingly nice, and that makes me sad, because I was never happy when I held Boychen like that. It was never so simple. I look at NewMomFriend and her contented little boy and how she takes it all in stride – and of course I’m sure it’s hard, because new babies with two older boys are hard, but it seems like the normal hard for her, not the your doctor mentions the possibility of  hospitals hard – and it makes me sad, too, all of the contented little moments of Boychen’s babyhood that I missed. I don’t want another baby, but I wouldn’t mind being able to remember just standing there rocking the Boychen and feeling so even-keeled about it all.

I wouldn’t mind being able to go back for one day, just one day, to refresh my memory of the baby Boychen, because I don’t have much of one. He must have been a delight.

So I’ve been thinking about that lately. When I’m that leaf in the wind, there is always rain.

Tell me something you’re doing or thinking or reading now that summer is slipping toward autumn.