Home is the place…

Last week, I did a poetry workshop at the senior center my mother attends (it offends her when it is referred to as ‘day care’ and I respect that).  Earlier in the day Mom warned me, “You better speak loudly or everyone will get bored.  And be funny.”  Okay, anything else?  “Yes, why don’t you go do something with that hair of yours!”

There were maybe 15 people in the room (Mom sat up front and kept giving me ‘the look’) including Amy, a sweet staff person who seemed genuinely excited to help ‘work the room’.  Everyone had pencil and paper and I prompted them to use all of their senses to describe – Home is the place where…

Without particular direction, I was surprised when all but 2 people wrote about ‘home’ when they were a child (not in the present and not from an adult perspective).  So many wrote about their own mothers.

Then, we read individual lines out loud and I collected everyone’s poems to take home and create a ‘found’ collaborative piece.  These are their lines, not mine.  All I did was arrange them and add transition words.

Home is the Place…

Home is the place
where my mother
is baking apple pie
and chocolate chip cookies.
I smell fresh mountain air
and fresh loaves of bread,
cakes from scratch
with home-churned butter,
vanilla and heavy cream.
Home is where I am allowed
to lick creamy batter
from the pans.
It’s where my mother
made the best bread pudding
with lemon sauce.

It smelled fantastic
inside our green bungalow,
our red brick tenement apartment,
our home in Louisiana,
in Manchester and Maine,
in Hartford and in Holland
where horses walk the streets
to deliver money to the poor.
It’s where my mom and I
sit on a rock
eating cheese, lettuce
and tomato sandwiches.

Home is blue and relaxing
like a tranquil flow of water,
like the room the babies slept in.
Though sometimes,
home can also sound discordant.
Sometimes it is where the spirits clash,
where my wife becomes angry.
Home can be black like the stove
with a pot of tea on top,
yellow and red like the kitchen
where we eat pot roast and stew
with vegetables from the garden
that taste much better than here.

Home is red like the cardinals
on the back deck
outside my window at 4am.
Like Amy,
also outside my window
playing the clarinet in 7th grade.

Home is where my mother,
being a musician
would play the harmonica.
And where my mother
would play the piano on holidays.
We would gather around
singing to the music.
People would be talking
and then, stop…
just to listen
to my mom’s creative keys.
That was really something!

Home is where we listened
to Arthur Godfrey
on the radio in the morning
and where I now hear
the local bus squeal to a stop
outside my window
at the end of the day.

Home is all of this…
and more.

by Simon, Joe, Sam, Maria, Gabby, Martha, Dottie, Edna, Kenneth, Jeanne, May, John & John

And here is my mother’s poem-

Home is the Place…

Home is
the red, brick tenement
that I grew up in, in Hartford.

I hear
the rats scratching.
Everyone had them.

It smells like apple pie
baking in the oven.
That was really something.

by Maria Thomas

Be good to yourself-
Elizabeth

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About hereisakiss

Daughter Writer Art's Educator
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8 Responses to Home is the place…

  1. Kathy Estadt says:

    What a fantastic idea! And the outcome is also pretty great.

    My own mother has just turned 84 and is still trying to and mostly succeeding at living independently in her own too-big house. None of us has any experience at watching our parents grow old and helpless, less say me. For some reason, I find her occasional slips into helplessness mildly irritating. Perhaps it is because she so often refuses to ask for or accept help when some simple humility on her part would ease her situation. Perhaps it is deeper than that.

    But your insights have softened the edges of how I see her now. Maybe it is that fierce protection of her desire to do everything herself that keeps her able to do what she does. And what she does is live each day to the fullest to the best of ability. Who would want anything less for their mother?

    Thank you. You are doing something worthwhile and authentic here. I appreciate it so much.

    • hereisakiss says:

      Kathy…I love how you say, “Maybe it is that fierce protection of her desire to do everything herself that keeps her able to do what she does. And what she does is live each day to the fullest to the best of ability.” As ‘irritating’ as this can feel sometimes, we can only hope to age as well…….and as I often say, “I hope my kids love me this much.”

  2. Gary Glazner says:

    Love the poem!

  3. Victoria says:

    Wow. Both poems are wonderful and made me cry. And the exercise is great too! I think I will do it next time I’m subbing elementary school and end up with extra time.

  4. Deb says:

    I ❤ this so much. Now that's what I call synergy!

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