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Monday, April 18, 2016

NaPoWriMo Day #18: Sounds of Childhood

I loved the prompt for today because I was surrounded by so many different voices when I was a child! This prompt has inspired some great tales for my book; I won't post all of them since I am publishing next month, but here is one and part of a second one. I'm looking for a title, so if you have any suggestions - please comment!

The prompt for today that really had me writing is as followed:

And now for our prompt (optional, as always)! Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that incorporates “the sound of home.” Think back to your childhood, and the figures of speech and particular ways of talking that the people around you used, and which you may not hear anymore. My grandfather and mother, in particular, used several phrases I’ve rarely heard any others say, and I also absorbed certain ways of talking living in Charleston, South Carolina that I don’t hear on a daily basis in Washington, DC. Coax your ear and your voice backwards, and write a poem that speaks the language of home, and not the language of adulthood, office, or work. Happy writing!

A big bowl of Nan’s homemade spaghetti sits in front of us,
yet I am not thinking of the time and love gone into mixing the dough:
nyet, spazibo, da are the only phrases I can parse out
of Daniel and my Russian friend’s long winded conversations.

After a string of das, I sit in amazement of the complexity of Russian;
my friend probably telling Daniel about where she was adopted from,
he’s probably telling her where he’s from in Slovakia and how he learned,
they smile and giggle—a sixteen year difference disappears in finding common ground.

I often dreamed of visiting Moscow or Saint Petersburg, watching the snow
cover the Kremlin with only the red and gold domes sticking out of the piles,
muscular men in wool clothes breaking their backs to keep the streets clean,
tiny women in babushkas cooking dinner and teaching  Russian by the fire—

yet I sit here today, I have no idea what the fast conversation is about,
like lightning cracking quickly off in the distance, their voices ferocious;
Woo’s pink tongue licks my hand, a curious cat drawn into the Russian too
and adds a brightness to the already warm table with Nan at the head.

I shut my eyes and picture the cathedrals and stone buildings in Saint Petersburg,
adventures similar depicted in Disney’s history of the Romanovs;
terror and murder hidden, I wanted to venture into the snowy woods like Anastasia,
or learn the poetics of Rasputin, getting lost in spiritual beauty for hours.

With loud giggles, the conversation comes to an end and English restored,
although Nan and I didn’t understand, we joined in the laughter and warmth
as she passed around the big bowl of spaghetti with hand formed beef meatballs,
Woo sleeping under the table next to Daniel’s foot, as the snow covers the bushes.


Crystal beads, the colours of the rainbow,
sit on the table in front of Nissa and me;
her parakeets chirp in the background along 
with her mother’s humming while making tea.

Sometimes she would sing in Urdu,
or tell me more details about their Pakistan trip;
but for today the goal is making beaded animals
before they leave for a month in humidity’s dip.


  1. Hi, Jessica Marie!

    Thank you for leaving a birthday greeting on my blog for 104 year old Margaret! That was very kind of you and she and her daughter Kathleen will both appreciate it.

    I love to listen to people speak in foreign tongues. Two years ago when Mrs. Shady and I visited the Grand Canyon, we listened to conversations among other visitors all day long and rarely heard anybody speak English! I appreciated your description of having a spaghetti dinner with your Russian friend.

    Have a great week, dear friend JM!

    1. Hi Shady,

      You're welcome! 104 years is impressive! That is awesome! My great grandma was 99.5 when she passed away and Nan was three months shy of 90. I hope to live a long life!

      I am working on finishing the Nissa poem, then writing one about listening to great grandma. She immigrated from Ireland in the late 1920s and still had the Irish brogue. It was cool listening to her. I listened to a lot of different voices growing up. It's really amazing.

      Thank you, dear friend, you as well!