Friday, May 21, 2021

#MarvelousMaryLee #PoemsforMaryLee

This week, I'm joining Christie (Happy Birthday!)
and a whole bunch of Poetry Friday friends,
celebrating the career of my dear friend,
Teacher and Poet Extraordinaire,
Mary Lee Hahn.

Earlier this week, a good friend gave me Linda Sue Park's terrific new book,THE ONE THING YOU'D SAVE. It's a short novel in verse. Each poem is a sijo, a three-line Korean poem, with thirteen to seventeen syllables per line. THE ONE THING YOU'D SAVE starts out:

“Imagine that your home is on fire. You're allowed to save one thing.

Your family and pets are safe, so don’t worry about them. 

Your Most Important Thing. Any size. A grand piano? Fine.”

I used THE ONE THING YOU'D SAVE as inspiration for my #MarvelousMaryLee poem. 

"If My Home Was On Fire…"

If my home was on fire, I would take my Mary Lee collection.

A million quiet kindnesses, gathered over fifteen years.

Another million life preservers, tossed to a woman drowning. 

If my home was on fire, I would take my Mary Lee collection.

Those first emails, when I was trying to start a blog and boldly

 contacted the only blogger I knew, repeatedly, to ask stupid questions,

and Mary Lee responded, graciously, again and again. 

And I would take the introductions to a zillion opportunities--

friendship with Franki, CYBILS, Poetry Fridays--

doors opened, connections made, relationships formed.

If my home was on fire, I would take my Mary Lee collection.

The red velvet cupcakes carried in a shoebox from Burlington

consumed in minutes by my football-loving high school sons.

A decade later my oldest still asks when Mary Lee will visit again. 

And I would take the memories from walks at the Botanic Gardens,

I watched as she changed lenses, leaned in, marveled,

drew extraordinary from what had been previously only ordinary.

If my home was on fire, I would take my Mary Lee collection.

I would take the CD of hopeful songs

sent from Ohio in one of my most un-hope-filled times  

I would take pieces because I played the CD so many times, it broke.

And I would take reminders of April Poetry Month when Mary Lee

created community, dreamed up themes, posted prompts,

and we all sat around, roasting marshmallows at her poetry bonfire. 

If my home was on fire, I would take my Mary Lee collection.

I would take my frantic pandemic emails, sent last March

to the most famous teacher I know, when I was feeling totally lost.

Her calm responses- schedules, ideas, formats. Cow pictures? Who knew?

And I would take retirement ideas. Start thinking now, Carol.

Do the things you love. Plan new chapters. Dream big.

And so I have Rooney. Write poetry. Imagine art classes.

If my home was on fire, I would take my Mary Lee collection.

(c) Carol Wilcox, 2021


Denise Krebs said...

Ah, Carol, what a sweet poem that honors so many amazing details about the person Mary Lee is. I have only been here a few weeks, so I am learning so much about this special person. Your heartfelt Mary Lee Collection is everything today!

Irene Latham said...

Oh Carol, this is SO LOVELY! I love that you used Linda Sue's book as inspiration, too. Beautiful! xo

jama said...

What a beautiful poem, Carol! Love how you incorporated so many wonderful memories from your "Mary Lee Collection." Fabulous idea to model your poem after LSP's book.

Bridget Magee said...

Your 'Mary Lee collection' is priceless and worth saving in any circumstance, Carol. Thank you for sharing your collection with us. :)

tanita✿davis said...

Ach, a life preserver tossed to a woman drowning. What an absolutely lovely way to put it.

Linda B said...

I adore Linda Sue Park's book, Carol. How beautifully you've used it as inspiration! I remember some of this from your postings long ago, and love that you've shown Mary Lee's caring ways. This "and we all sat around, roasting marshmallows at her poetry bonfire." made me smile so big! I look forward every week to Friday, and much of that has to do with Mary Lee, the "spark for the fire?"

Laura Benson said...

So lovely, Carol! Mary Lee’s light is a treasure 💜📖💙Love to you both!

Carol Varsalona said...

I have been searching for your post, Carol, because of your close connection to Mary Lee. Cupcakes, poetry, and wisdom connect you to Marvelous Mary Lee 9and more). Your tribute is a fine one. Like Linda, I was struck by image of a poetry bonfire gathering of wordsmiths.

Ruth said...

This is wonderful. Thank you for sharing your connections with Mary Lee.

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

If this poem made me tear up (which it did), I can only imagine how touched Mary Lee will be. <3

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Tabatha said...

I love your poem, Carol! So many wonderful, touching details.

Mary Lee said...


I love that book, and I LOVE that you would rescue our shared memories and moments in the event of fire. One of my stanzas would include all you did for my brother and (especially) me when Mom was in the hospital.

You have captured our friendship in stanzas. I treasure this poem, and I treasure you!

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