Thursday, 23 August 2018

This week’s Poetry Friday host is Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche. Stop by her blog for all of this week’s Poetry Friday links.

The day is finally here. We are dropping our youngest child off at university.

As often happens in times of transition, a favorite poem is making me smile and giving me comfort.

I first read “Moving Day,” by poet J. C. Elkin in 2010, when my little one actually was little — just ten years old. I selected this funny, emotionally true sonnet for an anthology I was editing.

Life in Me Like Grass on Fire: Love Poems was published by MWA Books in 2011. It includes 100 poems by 50 Maryland poets. Some of them stay with me, some I’m reminded of when I open the book. And some of the poems, like Jane’s, grow with me as I meet the moment of the poem in my own life.

by J. C. Elkin

You moved into your dorm a sticky day.
We schlepped your stuff and sweat with no A. C.
I vowed I wouldn’t bawl. I’d be OK.
I, too, was moving on. Now I was free.
My mind a knot of hopes, unbidden fears.
A sign: Hydration — Health: Your Body’s Link.
A stupid thought to cap our eighteen years,
my last advice was, “Don’t forget to drink.”

A horde of tourists swarmed Colonial Town.
Your dad bought food. I found a bench outside.
I would have been just fine, but sitting down
I bumped my head, and cried, and cried, and cried.

My mother’s death. Your sister’s crash. Now this.
At least there’s always chocolate. Make it Swiss.

from Life in Me Like Grass on Fire: Love Poems
Shared with permission of the author, J. C. Elkin

25 responses to “Poetry Friday: “Moving Day””

  1. Tabatha says:

    Isn’t it funny how sometimes a physical bump can shake loose a stuck emotion? Thanks for sharing a poem from “Life in Me Like Grass on Fire.” Thinking of you as you “move on”!

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Good point, Tabatha. I’ve heard it said that a bump like that can be a little nudge to pay attention to what you’re feeling in that moment.

  2. Ramona says:

    I love this, especially how it was something else that triggered the tears. Here’s to healthy transitioning for you and your youngest.

  3. Irene Latham says:

    Thinking of you, my friend! Our youngest left this past Monday… he does like to text me, so I feel well informed so far. 🙂 And yes to chocolate — and poetry! Definitely cheers me up. xo

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Thank you, Irene. I’m glad we have texting and email. It was harder to stay in touch when I was a college student. I hope you’re doing okay!

  4. The perfect poem for (it seems) so many of us dropping our children off to college in the last week or two. I knew it would be hard, but had no idea how long lasting the emotions would be. Thinking of you and glad to hear you have some good news to celebrate with another book on the way!

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Yes — it seems that all of the college students went back this week. I still miss my eldest — a junior — with a deep ache, even while I recognize how much he’s grown into his independence.

      I’ll post about the book news soon. Very excited to be working with Saadia on A Place at the Table!

  5. Linda Baie says:

    The poem takes me to my own goodbyes, but the words I love are this, Laura: “the moment of the poem in my own life.” How treasured are poems when they really connect to one’s life. Thinking of you as you take this new step. I hope your daughter loves her own new journey.

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Thanks, Linda. I do think certain poems echo more deeply when we’re going through particular experiences — almost like we’re growing into the poem, or the poem is meeting us in a new experience and greets us like an old friend or mentor.

  6. Ruth says:

    Mine left three years ago. This poem made me cry.

  7. Thanks for sharing this timely poem for so many of us–it truly hits home and the heart. We are moving our daughter into her dorm tomorrow–lots of emotions here. Our line here sounds like it’s from a poem “grow with me as I meet the moment of the poem in my own life.” Perhaps it will grow into a poem … Good luck on this new journey, xo

  8. Oh, I dread the day. I took my oldest for his first driving lesson today. Their leaving is incremental as we teach them to not need us, to be independent, to be skilled and thoughtful. You are a Powerful Mom!

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Thanks, Brenda. Oh, there’s a lot of back story with my kid. There was an early pulling away, and then a new closeness in the latter part of high school, even as she became more independent. My husband and I are going to miss her a ton!

  9. I can’t believe she wrote that she bumped her head and cried. That happened to me recently. It was just the last straw when I hit my head getting into an uber car. Leaving your children where they need to be and trying to hold it together is one of the hardest days a mother can have. And these moments keep repeating (like on my daughters’ wedding days.)

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Wow, Margaret! This poem was meant to find you today. You’re right — we try to hold it together so they will feel supported in their leaving.

  10. Mary Lee says:

    Wishing you all the chocolate (Swiss or dark) you need as you work through this transition time!

  11. Kay Jernigan McGriff says:

    I love this combination of humor and sorrow and change all wrapped up in a moment–so true to life. I hope your youngest begins (or maybe just continues) a journey of discovery and has a fabulous year or four.

    • Laura Shovan says:

      That’s one of the things I love most about this poem, Kay — it packs shifting emotions into its 14 lines. Thanks for the good wishes.

  12. Thank you for sharing this poem and book! It certainly seems full of inspiring words of wisdom. Best wishes to you and your family!

  13. Awwwwwww. You did it! Hooray! I like how this poem is mindful of the mundane during the experience of the milestone. It IS funny how something seemingly unrelated can open the floodgates. Best wishes for you as you continue to grow up! I used to think that kids grew up….that I had grown up until I learned that growing up is more for parents!

  14. So many PF friends watching their babies fledge this August – extra hugs to you!! It’s not easy at all, but young adult kids are a ton of fun. Like Linda & Michelle, I’m swooning over your post line, “…grow with me as I meet the moment of the poem in my own life.” Yes.

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Laura Shovan

Laura Shovan is the author of the award-winning middle grade novel, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. Her second book, Takedown, is a Junior Library Guild and PJ Our Way selection. Look for A Place at the Table, co-written with Saadia Faruqi, in 2020. Laura is a poet-in-the-schools Maryland.

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