Poetry Friday: Allowing for imperfections

Poetry Friday is hosted by Laura at Writing The World For Kids
I keep my copy of Teaching with Fire in my schoolbag, close at hand.  The poems and the writing that introduces and discusses them has never failed to touch me, lift my spirits or give me something to think about.  It’s been a rough week (settling sixth graders into a rigorous routine, coping with serious issues at home, trying to adjust to a worsening of my darned fibromyalgia) and I found myself finding new ways to approach old tasks.  A kinder way to get myself going and attend to my tasks.  I found that I could let certain things go, and that it is okay sometimes (even with a stack of reading journals to read and respond to) to take the time to just sit on the porch and watch the neighbor’s grandchildren frolic in the rain. 
So, Elizabeth Carlson’s poem has special resonance for me at the moment:


I am falling in love
with my imperfections
The way I never get the sink really clean,
forget to check my oil,
lose my car in parking lots,
miss appointments I have written down,
am just a little late.
I am learning to love
the small bumps on my face
the big bump of my nose,
my hairless scalp,
chipped nail polish,
toes that overlap.
Learning to love
the open-ended mystery
of not knowing why
I am learning to fail
to make lists,
use my time wisely,
read the books I should.
Instead I practice inconsistency,
irrationality, forgetfulness.
Probably I should
hang my clothes neatly in the closet
all the shirts together, then the pants,
send Christmas cards, or better yet
a letter telling of
my perfect family.
But I’d rather waste time
listening to the rain,
or lying underneath my cat
learning to purr.
I used to fill every moment
with something I could
cross off later.
Perfect was
the laundry done and folded
all my papers graded
the whole truth and nothing but
Now the empty mind is what I seek
the formless shape
the strange off center
sometimes fictional


8 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Allowing for imperfections

  1. It's like this poem was written for me. Thank you for sharing it, Tara. I especially loved: But I'd rather waste timelistening to the rain,or lying underneath my catlearning to purr.I hope next week is better!

  2. Sorry to hear about the week, Tara. I hope the weekend helps renew. I love my Teaching With Fire book too, & have given it often as gifts to colleagues, in fact, first knew it because it was a gift to me. This is a beauty that I don't remember, so thank you! I've had a good week, but stressful. I found a new home, which I might tell about, but am now in the craziness of completing the sale, then the thoughts of cleaning out to get ready for the move. I needed that line just as Laura quoted, wasting time listening to the rain…learning to purr. Best to you!

  3. Hi, Tara. I agree everyone — this poem speaks to me. Perhaps we all need to let go of our to do lists and expectations. "The empty mind/ is what I seek" is true for me. I hope things settle down for you. Meanwhile, take care of yourself!

  4. It's been a struggle for me to come to terms with my expectations vs what I can realistically achieve so this poem really resonates with me. Thank you for sharing it — it's going up on the wall of my studio.

  5. Such a welcome post for me, too, this weekend – Thank you, Tara. I came here from Mary Lee's post for this Poetry Friday, and I'm grateful for the souls in the world that call us to stop, just for a moment, be, and appreciate. This poem is freeing.

  6. Just what I need. That line about the sink made me snort — has this poet seen my house?!?!? My "OCD" brother is coming to visit next weekend and I just refuse to be someone I'm not. The house will be "clean enough"…the way we live in it all the other weeks when he's not here! AND I'M OKAY WITH THAT!!! (cheering)

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