Optional Writing

Red Leaves on Stone

It's true.

I never make my girls write.

Some would say this makes me a terrible writing teacher. I would say I teach all the time, but not by assignment. Especially for writing, I teach only by example. In our little "school," this has worked just fine.

Last week, for instance, when Dave made his dare, I told my daughters about it. Then I wrote some poems and read them aloud.

My 13-year-old said she didn't think she could write a poem about a Christmas ghost. We talked for a while about what a "Christmas ghost" might mean. She still didn't think she could write about it.

Then she handed me a sestina. It's a 39-line poem that repeats end-words (or slight variations on them) in a rolling fashion. The final stanza includes all the end words. It's amazing what someone will write if you don't make her write it.

Here's the poem. Not really rocket science, but it's a nice beginning. :)

The Christmas Ghost

Hello, I called.
Hi there, Anyone?
(I've got a problem. I need a ghost.)
not just any ghost, oh no—
I need a ghost of Christmas.
Past, present, future: doesn't matter!

Doesn't matter!
I'll take any called
anything— so long as it's for Christmas.
Yes, I know...
a ghost?! You want a ghost?!

You are thinking, who wants a ghost?
This is the truth of the matter.
I don't need one that can't write or at least dictate. No.
I need a ghost who can make a poem. I've called
for a while, but no one came. Not anyone.
Just for the eve of Christmas.

Please. Just for Christmas
Eve I need a ghost.
Have a ghost, anyone?
Or better yet, maybe it doesn't matter!
Listen— it's called...
a poem about a ghost! Yes! Oh, no.

Uh oh, oh no.
Here's finally a Christmas—
Cool... a ghost. It's not made of matter.
(What is it made of... hmmm? Anyone?)

Help. Hold my hand! Anyone.
No, no, no...
Why am I here? Who are you? he asks. I answer, Um doesn't matter.
I thought I needed a Christmas
but I don't! Sorry I called!

I bite my lip. Oh, but by the way, anyone... uh, ghost sir, while you're
        here, I need a Christmas
poem. Know any? About a ghost.

But... he's gone. It matters. I'm standing in a cold house sorry I called.

Poem by Sara, 13. Used with permission. Photo by J Barkat. This post is in honor of Random Acts of Poetry and One Shot Wednesday.

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Blogger Maureen said...


2:56 PM  
Blogger PattiKen said...

Wow, I'm impressed. Sounds like you are doing a fine job of teaching your girls to write.

5:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amazing job. I found my almost three year old was left handed last week, and he can do an E! Hoorah!!

5:32 PM  
Anonymous Chris G. said...

Excellent! You must be very proud of your daughter. Always nice to see what those so young can bring to the table.

6:05 PM  
Blogger Beachanny said...

I enjoyed it. It worked and it made me smile. Good use of word play and imagination.

6:19 PM  
Blogger Monkey Man said...

Excellent. Love the guest hostess' work.

7:14 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Fun, careful-what-you-call-for verses. :)

7:25 PM  
Blogger KB said...

Well done Sara. It's so hard to write when you HAVE to.

9:55 PM  
Blogger Desert Rose said...

it is the greatest effort ever to help your children write,get their imagination to roll on the paper and teach them how to set free their young souls..heartfelt post sara! God bless your little angels..may they flourish into beautiful writers someday..:)

6:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love that you did this. It is WONDERFUL. Keep their little minds going. Great one shot. Love and Light, Sender

9:53 AM  
Blogger David K Wheeler said...

The sestina is my favorite form. I'm so glad she went for it.

4:13 PM  
Blogger Reflections said...

WOW! She did a fantastic job for not being able to write a poem!

12:04 AM  
Blogger Helena Malheur said...

Very nice -- she's quite talented. Loved it!

2:29 AM  
Blogger Shashi said...

Beautiful... I loved every minute of it...
Thanks for sharing...

ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya
Twitter: @VerseEveryDay
Blog: http://shadowdancingwithmind.blogspot.com

6:40 AM  
Anonymous Sandra Heska King said...

Awesome, Sara!

8:33 PM  
Blogger Mama Abby said...

I loved this too...reminds me of when I was 13 writing poems, though she's quite a bit ahead of me;)

way to go Sara!!! keep letting it flow girl!

8:44 PM  
Blogger June_Butterfly said...

I think you don't need to teach your girls ,Sara.They have it in their genes.With you to guide I know they will turn out to be great writers,too.

Thanks for sharing this beautiful piece with us.

Christmas Ghost...Cute!

6:48 PM  
Blogger Michael Carter said...

Well done!

7:28 AM  

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