Poetry Friday: “Patterns” by Anne Atwell-McLeod

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Margaret Simon @ Reflections on the Teche

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We shared this poem in class today, written Anne Atwell when she was a student at Nancie’s school – where she now teaches. It’s from Naming the World: A Year of Poems and Lessons – a lovely collection of poems and poetry lessons.  My kids, perched on the edge of leaving the relative innocence of 6th. grade for the greater all-knowingness of 7th. grade,  dove into the wistful wisdom of the poem.  The second stanza, especially, drew many comments.  Someone mentioned that the same could be said for our room, which had become a timeline of their growing up, filled with relics they must leave behind.

I smiled at first, and then felt tears welling up.  I, too, am a relic they must leave behind.


Late afternoon light
kisses translucent curtains
the way it has year after year,
as familiar as the wallpaper
I chose from a patchwork quilt of samples
back when I couldn’t imagine a time
I’d want to look
at anything else.

The wallpaper frames a sampler embroidered
Friendship, Love, and Truth:
words that take on new meanings
as friends come, go, stay.
And the books overflowing their shelves –
each is a relic left behind
as a timeline of this room
and the person who lives here.

A life hides
in a jumble of outgrown running shoes,
the blank pages of journals too beautiful to write in,
the empty windows of a dollhouse too precious to put away,
a dusty pink boa framing a cloudy mirror,
the collection of boxes, each housing a story, a memory,
the worn red collar of the dog that died,
and, under the bed, a puppy’s lost tennis ball.

Darkness will come soon.
I know, because it has every other night.
I’ll rest my head upon a pillow
that witnessed a thousand emotions.
I’ll blink into the orange glow of the streetlight
until my eyelids close
and I dream amidst the pinks and blues
of my past,
my present,
my room.

~ Anne Atwell-McLeod


7 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: “Patterns” by Anne Atwell-McLeod

  1. I do adore what I term ‘goodbye’ poems, as you may have seen from my FB shares. This is a beauty, might be good for my speech at Continuation? Thanks, old relic!

  2. I love this poem for its specificity and simplicity. I have a shelf of journals too pretty to write in. Are your students writing their own goodbye poems?

  3. “Late afternoon light/kisses translucent curtains” and “books overflowing their shelves.” These wistful lines evoke so many memories of my grandmother’s house, which was also full of relics! Thank you for sharing this beautiful poem, Tara!

  4. I love that 3rd stanza: “A life hides…” I was sitting behind Nancie in a session at NCTE. I couldn’t resist tapping her on the shoulder to tell her the influence she’s been on my teaching life, and she introduced me to her daughter Annie. Tara, what a gift you’ve given us with this post! I can’t wait to share it with my teacher friends.

  5. The third stanza really speaks to me. I need to get rid of some of the STUFF of my life, but it ends up feeling like I’m getting rid of my LIFE.

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