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Inspired Wordsmith
Sunltcloud
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Re: a poem written in the garden

As I was looking at old journal pages to photograph and post on facebook later, I came across something written in the garden. I imagined a conversation shortly after 9/11 while working in the garden; here it is:

 

On the Road to Kandahar.

 

I stand in my garden. Thoughts of the war in Afghanistan

follow me along the graveled walkway.

No, I am not front line material. But I imagine things.

I imagine walking along the road to Kandahar.

I imagine a much younger, much braver me, standing

in front of Osama bin Laden with just a notebook in my hand.

 

I am covered from head to toe. A burka of fear?

A chill wind spits dust against my caged body.

 

"Shukran," I say, when he motions me to sit down.

Thank you. It is the only Arabic I remember from last year's trip

to Morocco and Egypt. Except for "Insha'llah."

Everybody says Insha'llah. God willing.

 

"Mr. bin Laden," I start, "Do you bring flowers to

your wives when you come home from a trip?"

I look at the interpreter and smile.

Then I think it is un-American to imagine myself talking

to the enemy. I toss a rotten apple into the garbage can

and wave away Osama's face.

 

A contemptuous vine creeps along the path; it is headed

for the lantana. Once it winds itself around a stem it is

difficult to destroy without hurting the victim. 

I dig into the soil in search of the invader's root.

 

Bombs fall on Kandahar.

The morning of September eleven crashes into my thoughts.

So many lives interrupted. Thousands of families changed.

Forever.

Children became orphans.

Osama's figure pushes into my view again.

 

"Are you concerned about the safety of your children,

Mr. bin Laden?"

 

I turn on the sprinkler. It is hot today. But winter

is coming to the mountains of Afghanistan.

Villages shiver with hunger and frost.

Caverns are trapped in isolation.

Snow covers the cries of women and the shouting of the Taliban.

 

I look across my garden. So many shades of green.

Shimmering drops of water pearl on the white petals of

a new rose. Peace. I bought it for its beauty.

And I bought it for its symbolism.

 

I cannot really imagine the road to Kandahar. I don't

feel the terror of the Taliban. I don't suffer the pain

of women confined to ignorance and beatings.

 

Kandahar is the second largest city of Afghanistan.

It was founded by Alexander the Great in the fourth

century before Christ. I read that yesterday on the

internet. At Encyclopedia.com.

 

As I leave the garden I look back over my shoulder.

No answers. Not all questions have answers.

 

"Mr. Bin Laden?" I try one more time,

"Have you said goodbye to your mother?"

 

                       "Insha'llah."

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becke_davis
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Re: a poem written in the garden

Wow. That is mind-boggling.
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KathyS
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Re: a poem written in the garden

G-

These questions bring tears.  We can ask, but when we see devastation brought to so many, you guess the answer...actions do speak louder than words...but we question anyway...To think we can change a mind, or an action, by saying, realize what you've done.  Do you have a heart?  What do you feel?  Why, to the person, and why to ourselves. What do we except to see in that heart?  I think you've imagined.


Sunltcloud wrote:

As I was looking at old journal pages to photograph and post on facebook later, I came across something written in the garden. I imagined a conversation shortly after 9/11 while working in the garden; here it is:

 

On the Road to Kandahar.

 

I stand in my garden. Thoughts of the war in Afghanistan

follow me along the graveled walkway.

No, I am not front line material. But I imagine things.

I imagine walking along the road to Kandahar.

I imagine a much younger, much braver me, standing

in front of Osama bin Laden with just a notebook in my hand.

 

I am covered from head to toe. A burka of fear?

A chill wind spits dust against my caged body.

 

"Shukran," I say, when he motions me to sit down.

Thank you. It is the only Arabic I remember from last year's trip

to Morocco and Egypt. Except for "Insha'llah."

Everybody says Insha'llah. God willing.

 

"Mr. bin Laden," I start, "Do you bring flowers to

your wives when you come home from a trip?"

I look at the interpreter and smile.

Then I think it is un-American to imagine myself talking

to the enemy. I toss a rotten apple into the garbage can

and wave away Osama's face.

 

A contemptuous vine creeps along the path; it is headed

for the lantana. Once it winds itself around a stem it is

difficult to destroy without hurting the victim. 

I dig into the soil in search of the invader's root.

 

Bombs fall on Kandahar.

The morning of September eleven crashes into my thoughts.

So many lives interrupted. Thousands of families changed.

Forever.

Children became orphans.

Osama's figure pushes into my view again.

 

"Are you concerned about the safety of your children,

Mr. bin Laden?"

 

I turn on the sprinkler. It is hot today. But winter

is coming to the mountains of Afghanistan.

Villages shiver with hunger and frost.

Caverns are trapped in isolation.

Snow covers the cries of women and the shouting of the Taliban.

 

I look across my garden. So many shades of green.

Shimmering drops of water pearl on the white petals of

a new rose. Peace. I bought it for its beauty.

And I bought it for its symbolism.

 

I cannot really imagine the road to Kandahar. I don't

feel the terror of the Taliban. I don't suffer the pain

of women confined to ignorance and beatings.

 

Kandahar is the second largest city of Afghanistan.

It was founded by Alexander the Great in the fourth

century before Christ. I read that yesterday on the

internet. At Encyclopedia.com.

 

As I leave the garden I look back over my shoulder.

No answers. Not all questions have answers.

 

"Mr. Bin Laden?" I try one more time,

"Have you said goodbye to your mother?"

 

                       "Insha'llah."


 

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KathyS
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Sunflowers

[ Edited ]

These are not my quoted thoughts, these are thoughts of Willa Cather, from her book,

My Antonia:

 

The new country lay open before me; there were no fences in those days, and I could choose my own way over the grass uplands, trusting the pony to get me home again.  Sometimes I followed the sunflower-bordered roads.  Fuchs told me that the sunfowers were introduced into the country by the Mormons; that at the time of the persecution, when they left Missouri and struck out into the wilderness to find a place where they could worship God in their own way, the members of the first exploring party, crossing the plains to Utah, scattered sunflower seed as they went.  The next summer, when the long trains of wagons came through with all the women and children, they had the sunflower trail to follow.  I believe that botanists do not confirm Fuchs's story, but insist that the sunflower was native to those plains.  Nevertheless, that legend has stuck in my mind, and sunflower-bordered roads alsways seem to me the roads to feedom.

 

One of the first pictures I'd taken, while my brother (a Mormon) was building his house in Utah, was of the sunflower.  They were everywhere!

 

Reading Willa Cather's thoughts, this week [through the eyes of this character], made me think more of Sunltcloud's Sunflower.

 

We attach, in a feeling perspective, what nothing but words can articulate and bring to life.  Life is but memories, and roads, and timeless thoughts;  and maybe just a flower that can touch us and bring those memories to life.

Message Edited by KathyS on 05-31-2009 08:16 PM
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Par4course
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Re: Sunflowers

I love your thoughts, KathyS.  My daughter and I are into buying peonies at the local Trader Joe's these last two weeks.  Me, as a tribute to the aunt that passed away recently,because I remember her growing them in her front yard; and my daughter because she's intrigued by how big they open and how wonderful they smell.  (We can't grow them here - not enough cold weather). 

 

What I didn't remember was how they change color when they are through opening.  The color fades and the scent is lost...much like some of our memories.  And so we had to go buy another bunch... to bring back the memories and the loveliness. I wonder how many of us connect a certain flower to a special person or memory?

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becke_davis
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Re: Sunflowers

I love that we're talking about two of my favorite flowers, sunflowers and peonies. I've always loved sunflowers, but peonies hold special memories. I grew up in Elk Grove Village, Illinois (and yes, I've visited Elk Grove, CA, too), which was down the street from Klehm's Nursery. Klehm's has moved but they still specialize in hostas, daylilies and peonies.

 

Back when I was a kid, Elk Grove had an annual Peony Pageant Parade, where there would be floats covered in Klehm-grown peonies and they would toss peonies into the crowd.  Maybe because of this, my mom grew a lot of peonies. I have a lot of them in my yard in Cincinnati, and I got most of them from Klehm's Song Sparrow Perennial Farm (they sell mail order now).

 

Did you know peonies can live fifty years or more? They don't like to be moved or planted too deeply, but if you put them in the right place, they will live as long as most trees. 

Inspired Wordsmith
Sunltcloud
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Re: Sunflowers

What a lovely picture Willa Cather paints. I can see it in front of me.

 

Many of the flower images that come to my mind and make me smile are from my childhood. I remember a field of red poppies behind our house. And a wheat field across the road, edged with blue corn flowers. I can smell the purple lilac around my grandmother's house after a rain shower. Violets under the horse chestnut trees. Red and white clover, nettles.

 

Probably the most vivid is the memory of the color yellow at the edge of the Black Forest. When I came to California I was immediately drawn to the mustard that grows wild in February. Later I realized why; when I was small we had endless fields of yellow all around us. They looked identical to the California fields, but they were rape fields. Timeless thoughts indeed.


KathyS wrote:

These are not my quoted thoughts, these are thoughts of Willa Cather, from her book,

My Antonia:

 

The new country lay open before me; there were no fences in those days, and I could choose my own way over the grass uplands, trusting the pony to get me home again.  Sometimes I followed the sunflower-bordered roads.  Fuchs told me that the sunfowers were introduced into the country by the Mormons; that at the time of the persecution, when they left Missouri and struck out into the wilderness to find a place where they could worship God in their own way, the members of the first exploring party, crossing the plains to Utah, scattered sunflower seed as they went.  The next summer, when the long trains of wagons came through with all the women and children, they had the sunflower trail to follow.  I believe that botanists do not confirm Fuchs's story, but insist that the sunflower was native to those plains.  Nevertheless, that legend has stuck in my mind, and sunflower-bordered roads alsways seem to me the roads to feedom.

 

One of the first pictures I'd taken, while my brother (a Mormon) was building his house in Utah, was of the sunflower.  They were everywhere!

 

Reading Willa Cather's thoughts, this week [through the eyes of this character], made me think more of Sunltcloud's Sunflower.

 

We attach, in a feeling perspective, what nothing but words can articulate and bring to life.  Life is but memories, and roads, and timeless thoughts;  and maybe just a flower that can touch us and bring those memories to life.

Message Edited by KathyS on 05-31-2009 08:16 PM

 

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Sunltcloud
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Re: Sunflowers

When I think of my mother I think of sweet peas. She loved them because of their dainty colors. When my friend died I planted his favorites, daffodils, on my hill in his honor and now I buy daffodils at Trader Joe's every year, when they are in season. I associate my grandmother with purple lilac and my grandfather with pole beans (he would take me in the garden with him when I was around four and let me water the vegetables with a small watering can).

 

Interesting. I seem to acquire flowers because they remind me of somebody; now I wonder how I will be remembered? Will my kids know that I love dandelions and bright red geraniums and dead sunflowers?


 

Par4course wrote:

I love your thoughts, KathyS.  My daughter and I are into buying peonies at the local Trader Joe's these last two weeks.  Me, as a tribute to the aunt that passed away recently,because I remember her growing them in her front yard; and my daughter because she's intrigued by how big they open and how wonderful they smell.  (We can't grow them here - not enough cold weather). 

 

What I didn't remember was how they change color when they are through opening.  The color fades and the scent is lost...much like some of our memories.  And so we had to go buy another bunch... to bring back the memories and the loveliness. I wonder how many of us connect a certain flower to a special person or memory?


 

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becke_davis
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Re: Sunflowers

Kathy - thanks for sharing that excerpt with us. This is a good time to ask if the rest of you have favorite books that make you think of your gardens or the great outdoors. I love this one: 

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And this one is intriguing: 

 

Elizabeth and Her German Garden  
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Par4course
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Re: Sunflowers

I've always enjoyed Mary Stewart's books (The Ivy Tree, The Moonspinners, The Rose Cottage) because they include a mild mystery plus great descriptions of flowers and gardens. 
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becke_davis
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Re: Sunflowers


Par4course wrote:
I've always enjoyed Mary Stewart's books (The Ivy Tree, The Moonspinners, The Rose Cottage) because they include a mild mystery plus great descriptions of flowers and gardens. 
Oh, I love her books!  If you look at my blog: http://the-garden-muse.blogspot.com/
you'll see a picture of a tall rose bush (scroll down to May pictures from Cincinnati). That is a Zephirine Drouhin rose, which I bought because I was intrigued by the description of it in Agatha Christie's SAD CYPRESS.
Sad Cypress (Hercule Poirot Series) 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Like you, I'm a huge fan of Mary Stewart's books. These are my favorites:
The Ivy Tree 
Crystal Cave (Arthurian Saga Series #1)   Touch Not the Cat  
 the 
 
 

 

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becke_davis
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Re: Sunflowers

Another mystery author who uses plant descriptions pretty heavily in her books is Ruth Rendell. I only remember this because she refers to them by British common names, and I had to look them up to see what they were.
Inspired Wordsmith
Sunltcloud
Posts: 933
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Gardening: In Your Own Words

The Buddha and the Garden Gnome

 

We call them Schrebergaerten, those little pieces of country soul lined up neatly, one next to the other, on the outskirts of German cities. What do their often picket-fenced borders try to seclude? Dahlias, pole beans, watering cans … and garden gnomes. The gnome is the keeper of the traditional dream. He dwells in ostentatious flower gardens, in tiny back lots, along the seedy outer seams of urban societies.

 

As teenager, when I lost my parsley snipping privileges in my grandmother’s herbal paradise, when I moved to the city where a windowsill geranium was my only connection to nature’s breath, I was too self-righteous to pay attention to garden gnomes. You could say I was too young. Back home, in the village, people said I was too wild. My dreams of happily ever after shattered before they had a chance to descend from their castles in the sky. Was my growth stunted, I sometimes wonder, because I didn’t confide in a dwarf?

For many years, after I came to America, I banned all reminders of garden gnomes. I made fun of the unmistakably German desire to fit a little country into a busy city life and adorn it with a brightly colored, wrinkly old man wearing a pointed hat. “Fake” I said. “Plastic kitsch.”

 

Though originally garden gnomes were made of clay, modern versions are usually resin multiples hopping from a common mold. I vowed that I would never allow a clone gnome to be my personal advisor. To prove my good taste in statuary and to make a concession to my wish for communication with a fixed point of interest in my garden, I bought an eighteen-inch Buddha. A beautiful pale gray Buddha. I shaded him with a two-headed dragon pyracantha - a bush I snipped and shaped and twisted into this rather unnatural mythical form of animal lore. During our first spring together I surrounded the Buddha with daffodils and graveled a path that would lead me from my morning coffee table directly into a meditative state of eastern serenity. I loved my Buddha.

 

After I retired and found time to dissect my past, I came to the somewhat puzzling conclusion that an eastern Buddha might not always fulfill all my western notions of paradise. Is it my German upbringing, a rigid indoctrination into linear order that clashes with the lovely concept of circular life force? In the midst of painful discoveries my search for meaning suddenly laid bare a deep desire to own a gnome. I remembered that once I had met a lover on a garden bench in the early morning mist of a Schrebergarten, close to the river, under the watchful eyes of a wheelbarrow-pushing blue-trousered gnome. I was madly in love then, and terribly opposed to conformity. The ill-fated escapade still makes me shiver with delight and hold my breath in sadness. Though townspeople had called me a wild young woman, I saw myself as spirited, open-minded, adventurous. I had visions of making the world a better place. I recited Langston Hughes, read Bertrand Russell, admired Che Guevara

 

My research into gnome habitat revealed that the modern Schrebergarten had a dark beginning. I shudder to think what cruel regulations Herr Dr. Daniel Gottlob Moritz Schreber had in mind when he came up with the idea of creating athletic playgrounds for the children of Leipzig. City children, he believed, need healthy relief for their excessive energy. Schreber advocated medical indoor gymnastics and remedial outdoor exercises; his child-rearing pamphlets “stressed the necessity of taming the rebellious savage beast in the child and turning him into a productive citizen.” He wrote books about urbanization and its social consequences on children’s health. He was a physician and university teacher; one of his sons committed suicide when he was in his thirties, the other wrote a memoir about his own nervous illness that was later interpreted and analyzed by Freud and a host of others.

Luckily, after Schreber’s death, the idea of remedial exercise playgrounds morphed into a tool that would teach children the pleasures of gardening. Two world wars added the need for fresh vegetables and post war leisure added the luxury of structures and ornamentation. I think it was my parents’ generation that added garden gnomes. I think it was my stepfather who personally ordered the gnome next to the bench, by the river, to spy on me. My stepfather, like Dr. Schreber, did not tolerate rebellion.

 

Last year, after I had dug up the word “gnome” from the bottom of my memory, had left it sit in the open for a while to gain reality, I consulted the Internet for a gnome store. I bought Buckston Sr. Twenty-two inches tall. Brown pants, green jacket, red pointed hat. Small shovel in one hand. Long white curly beard and gentle brown eyes. I placed him, away from the Buddha, into his own space, surrounded by red geraniums. A hand-painted clone gnome with a British name, made in China, a German secret in his heart, fitting himself into the suburban American landscape.

 

Over the years my so-called wild side had become tamer and I came to the conclusion that I have to face my limitations in order to be whole. This brings to mind the modern slogan of acceptance: “It is what it is.” I want to call it stoicism but stoics claim indifference to pain and pleasure. Freedom from passion. I don’t ever want to be free from passion. I only want to acknowledge that I didn’t save the whole world. That I didn’t knock down all the barriers of racism. That I didn’t feed all the children or rescue all the needy. I didn’t set the sky ablaze with fireworks. Instead I marched against war, lit a candle of sisterhood here and there in the proverbial darkness. Baked cookies once for a homeless man. Knit teddy bears for the children of Africa. And last summer, my seventieth, I moved the Buddha and the gnome into the same garden spot, only three feet apart. Now they face each other and I encourage them to discuss me freely.

 

I read that Schrebergaerten are suffering a crisis. The article was entitled “Germany’s Garden Ghettos.” The reporter for Spiegel Online describes “a luxury version of a South Asian slum – miniature houses tucked in next to the train tracks as far as the eye can see,” and “a liberal distribution of garden gnomes and plastic windmills with cheap replicas of Greek fountains and other water features.” Another article dealt with the dilemma that faces the German government; it seems that some of the more than 1.24 million Schrebergaerten suffer an invasion of homeless, undocumented immigrants. Turks. Turks are blamed for just about everything in Germany.

 

My hope for the future is that Buckston Sr. and the Buddha will dream up a new thought. Not something they pulled from the underbrush of a decaying Schrebergarten or the raked emptiness of a simulated riverbed. I want them to surprise me. Say something like, “Let’s build a rooftop wonderland. A winter garden with firs and shimmering icicles. Pink tulips peeking through the snow. And lets invite the Turks to drink hot chocolate with us.”

 
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becke_davis
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Re: Gardening: In Your Own Words

Just got back from my weekend at a writer's conference to this lovely surprise. What a wonderful post! Do you have a garden blog? Thanks so much for sharing this!
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Sunltcloud
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Re: Gardening: In Your Own Words

No, Becke, no garden blog. I have an "occasional" travel blog where I deposit some of my travel writing. I had a knitting blog for a while, while I knitted 100 teddy bears for Motherbearproject.com. I am not consistent enough to sustain a blog. The thing I learned about blogging is the fact that you have to "be there" all the time or you lose your followers and I am often off into my own little world.

 

I hope you had a great time at the writer's conference. They can be strenuous, but they are usually quite productive.


becke_davis wrote:
Just got back from my weekend at a writer's conference to this lovely surprise. What a wonderful post! Do you have a garden blog? Thanks so much for sharing this!


 

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becke_davis
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Re: Gardening: In Your Own Words


Sunltcloud wrote:

No, Becke, no garden blog. I have an "occasional" travel blog where I deposit some of my travel writing. I had a knitting blog for a while, while I knitted 100 teddy bears for Motherbearproject.com. I am not consistent enough to sustain a blog. The thing I learned about blogging is the fact that you have to "be there" all the time or you lose your followers and I am often off into my own little world.

 

I hope you had a great time at the writer's conference. They can be strenuous, but they are usually quite productive.


becke_davis wrote:
Just got back from my weekend at a writer's conference to this lovely surprise. What a wonderful post! Do you have a garden blog? Thanks so much for sharing this!


 


I had an exhausting yet invigorating weekend, thanks.
 I think you all should consider this a blog of sorts, and post more of your beautiful writing here. I love to read it, and I'm sure others do, too! 

 

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KathyS
Posts: 6,893
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Gardening: In Your Own Words


becke_davis wrote:

Sunltcloud wrote:

No, Becke, no garden blog. I have an "occasional" travel blog where I deposit some of my travel writing. I had a knitting blog for a while, while I knitted 100 teddy bears for Motherbearproject.com. I am not consistent enough to sustain a blog. The thing I learned about blogging is the fact that you have to "be there" all the time or you lose your followers and I am often off into my own little world.

 

I hope you had a great time at the writer's conference. They can be strenuous, but they are usually quite productive.


becke_davis wrote:
Just got back from my weekend at a writer's conference to this lovely surprise. What a wonderful post! Do you have a garden blog? Thanks so much for sharing this!


 


I had an exhausting yet invigorating weekend, thanks.
 I think you all should consider this a blog of sorts, and post more of your beautiful writing here. I love to read it, and I'm sure others do, too! 

I'm glad you're back, too....Becke ----I missed 'mommy' :smileyhappy:  I hope the invigoration stays, and exhaustion doesn't take over!  Get some rest!

 

And, G - I agree with Becke...plop down your thoughts with us!  I loved what you just wrote, but I'm having a hard time responding.  It's like I've said before.....after reading something so throught provoking, I have to soak it in.  I walked away feeling it, and my own words left me.  I'll think of something to say, never fear!

 

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becke_davis
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Re: Gardening: In Your Own Words

Kathy - I missed you all! I let myself be persuaded to share a room with three women in my writer's group. On Friday night we got less than 2 hours sleep. Not much more than that last night. I'm too old for this!

 

Kathy, you haven't posted any of your writing for awhile. Aren't we due for some of your prose, too? 

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KathyS
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Re: Gardening: In Your Own Words


becke_davis wrote:

Kathy - I missed you all! I let myself be persuaded to share a room with three women in my writer's group. On Friday night we got less than 2 hours sleep. Not much more than that last night. I'm too old for this!

 

Kathy, you haven't posted any of your writing for awhile. Aren't we due for some of your prose, too? 


 

Becke, as long as you had fun, you're not too old!  Just don't stay up to late, tonight.  I don't want you getting sick!  The other mom has spoken! :smileyvery-happy:

 

As far as my prose....Let's see, now

 

I saw a snail this week

he was small and meek

I pryed him off the wall

and threw him into the street!

 

As a car drove by

he rolled with a sigh

He looked so sad

I started to cry

 

Another car beeped it's horn

he looked forlorn

 

CRUNCH! 

 

too late to save him

time to mourn

 

What have I done?

for a little fun

 

CRUNCH!  Again!

 

I took a life

I am undone

 

  

 

 

 

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becke_davis
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Re: Gardening: In Your Own Words

Kathy -- If that was about anything other than a snail, I'd think it was really morbid. Can't really say that, though, since I want those nasty things out of my garden any way I can!