Sunday, April 06, 2014

Our Wonderful World.6

Details of my Poetry Month Project can be found here.

The Eight Gratitudes

I hope you won't think I'm wasting
one of my eight
by choosing daffodils.
They hold hope
in their cup-and-saucer blooms.

If I choose
books -- 
the ones I bought yesterday,
plus the ones that line nearly every wall of every room --
can they also stand 
for the authors,
and my fellow readers,
and a quiet afternoon 
spent curled up on the couch reading?
Is that cheating?

How could I not
include chocolate?

Or my mug of hot tea 
first thing
in the morning?

When I close my eyes
and think of home,
I picture my mother, 
looking out the window above the kitchen sink,
calling me 
to come and see
the sunset.

Yes, that's worth three:
home, mom, sunsets.

Number eight is silence,
which was broken just now
by the train's whistle,
and earlier
by the robins and wrens 
singing in the dark.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2014

As I read about The Porcelain Tower of Nanjing, trying to find a starting point for a poem, I came across these names for the pagoda: "Bao'ensi, or "Temple of Gratitude," and I learned that the base of the tower is octagonal. That's all I needed. My poem would be, "The Eight Gratitudes," which is a poem I could probably (should probably) write every day of my life with eight different gratitudes per day. After all, there's a growing body of research that shows an "Attitude of Gratitude" is actually good for your health.

The original tower, built to honor either the Emperor's parents or just his mother, was destroyed in the 19th Century, but was rebuilt in 2010.

Amy has been writing about her mentor poems in her process notes for her daily poems at The Poem Farm. I didn't have a particular poem in mind as I wrote, but I tried to imitate the conversational tone of Billy Collins' or George Bilgere's poetry.

Kevin's Notegraphy is here.

Be sure to visit Carol's Corner to read the fabulous abecedarian Carol wrote about The Great Wall of China yesterday.


  1. You managed a lovely voice, just like talking to us, Mary Lee. I'm happy to hear your eight-parallels some of mine. I like the history you shared, and isn't it grand that they re-built this beautiful thing? I wonder if that has ever been done in the US? The White House I know, but others? Thanks!

  2. Your poem is beautiful, Mary Lee...just beautiful.

  3. Gorgeous - and I love this poetic voice, full of quiet confidence. Thank you.

  4. Your poem is so, so perfect. Absolutely beautiful.

    "Porcelain Tower"

    Cleaning out my mother’s house
    my sisters and I build a porcelain pagoda
    treasures we do not know how to keep
    but cannot bear to give away
    in the middle of the living room

    Sterling silver tea set
    my parents’ wedding gift
    from my Grandmother Wilcox
    it lived on dining room buffet
    for many years
    Sunday afternoons
    my father would watch golf or football
    and polish the tea service
    he has been gone twenty years
    and the tea service
    clearly misses his ministrations.

    Wedding china
    White with one pink rosebud
    wrapped around the rim
    the first year
    I did not come home
    for Thanksgiving
    my throat ached as
    I pictured my family
    uncovering those pink rosebuds
    as they ate turkey
    and homemade cranberry relish.

    Waterford crystal
    cut glass dishes,
    pitcher, sugar bowl,
    one piece purchased
    by my Grandma Grace
    every December
    for my parents’ anniversary
    displayed in
    special bottom-lit case
    but rarely used
    because it chipped so easily

    We heap everything
    in the middle of the living room
    one sister says none of this goes with her modern d├ęcor
    the other says she has her own collection
    I imagine my boys’ large rough hands
    mishandling these delicacies.

    we wrap everything in bubble wrap
    and store it in tubs
    building a plastic pagoda
    in my youngest sister’s basement.

    (c) Carol Wilcox, 2014

  5. Mine

  6. I absolutely love this, Mary Lee.


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