Carrying Home and #MayPoems for Poetry Friday

Things We Carry on the Sea
By Wang Ping

We carry tears in our eyes: good-bye father, good-bye mother
We carry soil in small bags: may home never fade in our hearts
We carry names, stories, memories of our villages, fields, boats
We carry scars from proxy wars of greed

I have never had to carry things as heavy as Ping describes here, things which refugees throughout history and today have to bear. This poem is heartbreaking and inspires empathy, and hopefully it will inspire me to take action. Please read the rest of her words, along with a lesson plan to teach it, at Teach This Poem: “Things We Carry on the Sea”.

We will be carrying some things home when we leave Bahrain, but chances are good because of our privilege we will fly in a jet across the ocean with a few suitcases of our special possessions to bring home. My May Poem for today is about my present and future homes inspired by Michelle Kogan. I love the words she creates and chooses, as she did on this post (rose-tipped and gypsy-stemmed), this post (cone-wove and beak-fluff), this post (ginger-spice-edged) and this comment (flicker-orange and tee-root). And on today’s post (poppiness and banana boats and strawberry spice). Such sweet words!

Because of Michelle, I wanted to try words with hyphens and also paint my own picture for today. I drew and painted a Kingdom of Bahrain door leading to my “magical” place inspired by the guided imagery on this episode of Art Date with Miss Kate.

When drawing with Kate, I thought of our home in Joshua Tree, California, where we will hopefully move at the end of 2021. Here is my painting and related poem. (I’m not sure if mine is considered an ekphrastic poem because I didn’t really describe the painting, but it surely inspired my words.)

Into the Door

The here-to-there Door
Where we will say our
Teary-faced, hug-full
Ma Salama مع السلامه
To two-Waters warmth,
Our hospitable Haven,
Uncovering our
Marhaba مرحبا
To sweet-hope Home
Wide open to where
Whispers-from-God Joshuas
Point to Life-drenched Promise

I decided on May 1 to write some #MayPoems, not knowing if I would do it for three days or further into the month. Well, so far I have written and posted each day in May with a different prompt, inspiration, or a response to some treasure I found while reading or observing. This Poetry Friday community has encouraged me and provided nourishment as you have read and commented on some of my May Poems. Thank you.

Here are each day’s posts in one index:

Today’s Poetry Friday roundup is hosted by Michelle Kogan at her blog. Happy birthday and thank you, Michelle!

Desert scene in California with Joshua trees
Our backyard

22 thoughts on “Carrying Home and #MayPoems for Poetry Friday

  1. What a beautiful and rich post. Yes, I see the similarity to my post as well. I’m intrigued by the painting exercise. I think I might need to try that! I taught overseas…and loved it. Coming home was bittersweet for me because I loved living outside the US but also loved my homeland. I cannot imagine not being able to go home…the tragedy of that…the weight of that. Welcome home soon. I love how you mixed Arabic into your poem. It’s stunning.

    1. Thank you so much, Linda. I can imagine the bittersweet feelings we will have. Already coming as we consider saying goodbye, quite possibly not in person. That will be difficult after eight years. Where did you teach overseas?

  2. Denise, The guided imagery video is a bonus today as well as your magic door images. I wish you well on your journey home and enjoyed hearing about your present home. May the magic of poetry goodness guide you into future writing.

    1. Thank you, Carol. Poetry goodness has been a huge gift this past year, so I’m looking forward to taking it with me into the future too.

  3. Love your magic doors and the bittersweet emotion in your poem. “Sweet-hope home” is wonderful! All the best for your journey back to the U.S.

    1. Thank you, Jama. I’m so grateful for poetry and the way communication virtually can help us not have to fully say goodbye to the relationships and “home” we have here.

  4. First, congratulations on writing poems all through May! I’ve only written poems for an entire month once and it was exhausting 🙂 Second, I love your painting! So charming. That looks like a great project to do with students or family. Good luck as you prepare to shift your homebase.

    1. Thank you, Tabatha. I have had a semi-retired schedule, so that is the ONLY reason I have been able to write poems each day in April and May this year. The first time ever!

      It would a fun project to do with a group and then share what is behind their doors. Good idea, and the video could be a good resource. Thanks for the wishes about preparing to move. I look forward to having a move where I actually have time to go through possessions and pack well.

  5. This post is rich with detail and provokes thought Denise. Wang Ping’s ‘The Things We Carry On The Sea’ poem reminds me that all carry things -some visible, some not so. Your poem ‘Into the Door’ leads me to ponder journeys and opportunities. It was also intriguing how you set out on your May Poems project uncertain as to your ultimate commitment. I find it fascinating the beguiling nature of such projects. We often develop a desire to continue as we are drawn further into the process. It’s as if we need to travel all the way to the end. That’s the essence of stickability…

    1. Thank you so much, Alan, for reading my post and your thoughtful comment. Beguiling is a great word for projects I take on like this–they charm and trick me! It’s been fun to have to find my own inspiration, which has made me read more in May and pay attention. It has been an altogether good thing. In the past I’ve only ever written poems in April, when I was given a prompt each day.

  6. What a wonderful idea, Denise. Your drawing, poem, and thoughts come together so well. Thank you for putting so much time into today’s poem. While I cannot comment on Bahrain, I can on Joshua Tree. I was there in 2018 and absolutely loved it. What a vast experience you’ve lived that will continue to inform your writing! I love that!

    1. Carol, thank you so much for your kind words. Next time you are in Joshua Tree, you’ll have to let me know! My daughter was married there in 2017.

  7. What a wonderful poem you shared by Wang Ping and I love the rest of your post, too. I’m going to keep this page open so I can go back and read more of your poems from the month. That is a real achievement!

    I can so relate to your thoughts about being from more than one place. And I would definitely call your poem an ekphrastic one.

    1. Thank you, Ruth. I can’t believe all the new poetry words I learn every week with this group. Lately…ekphrastic, ars poetica, and yesterday: haibun.

  8. This post is so rich for me. Your opening poem reminded me of Tim O’Brien’s short story, one of my favorites, “The Things they Carried,” about soldiers at war. The things refugees carry are just as moving. I also would call your poem ekphrastic. Thanks for sharing it and your picture. Wonderful post.

  9. Beautiful. I love the drawings and the referencing to what Michelle does with her language.
    The poem by Ping is haunting and gorgeous and I wish I were teaching to share it with students.
    Good luck on your move. I hope to visit Joshua Tree in September.

  10. Thanks for sharing the powerful poem by Wang Ping—there are so many layers there. This line reminded me of the poem “Rise: From One Island To Another,” here’s a link to it:
    What a wonderful idea, “The here-to-there Door!” There are layers in your rich poem too. Love your doors, all the best as you leave one and pass into another. Congratulations on all your poem writing for this month, and thanks for your kindness Denise!

    1. Oh, Michelle, “Rise” is so humbling and powerful. I just watched and listened to it. Heartbreaking.
      Thank you for your comment and hosting. I hope you had a great birthday!

  11. Although your post centers on the travel from country to country I thought of those, like me, who left my home of over forty years to make something new out of both necessity & sadness. “From door to door” feels as if it could be an anthology of poem/stories from many. Every part of your post inspires, Denise. Best wishes for your own move.

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