My high school literature elective class recently worked on poems inspired by/modeled on “The Blower of Leaves” by January Gill O’Neil. Read the brilliant original poem here: “The Blower of Leaves”.
Below are my version and student versions (used with student permission).
The Blower of Snow
Always there are flakes after flakes waiting to fall.
An infinity of alabaster, swirling in
the fading December sun, glazing my eyes
In a welter of white. My driveway is their destination.
Today I kneel to the feeling of possible grace,
the beauty of what’s unseen—the holy world
of our work made harder without you,
while the soft kiss of snowfall caresses the ground.
I am a fool. Even as the wan sky feebles and falters,
it is still lovely. I scan the creeping maw of dusk
for its remains. All this time I was praying
to a forgiving God to absolve us,
but really I was hoping for you to be enough.
It was a failing that whirled inside me,
a bleak symmetry, a synapse of grief pulsing enough,
enough. How I had conflated it with survival.
I can forgive the snow covering the bare maples,
the blade of the plow scarring the grass,
but without you there is no forgiveness.
Only silence. Only the sky’s dying cover
And ice masquerading as purchase.
Nothing is ever easy or true,
except the snow. It falls.
Dependable as a season.
Klaire’s “The Grower of Roses”
Always there is sky after sky waiting to grow.
The luminosity of the light
in the April sun, blinding my eyes
in a curtain of color. My yard is their landing strip.
Today I bow to the power of positive space,
the beauty that is now showing–
the hard work of yard work
paid off with you,
I am a fool, thinking I could do it alone.
As the ground warms, the roses grow.
There is no more snow. All this time,
I was just waiting for you to tell me
that I was enough.
It was a feeling that swirled inside me,
my blood pulsing for you to say I was enough,
enough. How I had mistaken your hidden love for unhappiness.
If I can forgive the wind blowing branches over our roses,
crushing them, after they have grown,
I can forgive you for hiding
the love you have for me.
It’s time to grow.
Sadie’s “The Catcher of Blossoms”
Millions of blushing petals falling to the ground.
they flood my vision and bring forth a smile
that they gladly carry even as they land
on the rigid earth. They carry so much more.
Today I lay and offer prayer to falling petals,
the plea to fill what’s missing–the feel of you.
I’m a fool. Even as red stains the freshly fallen petals,
they cannot offer me healing. I stain their lovely color
with my life essence. All this time I was waiting
for you to tell me of your hopes and dreams,
but really I was waiting for you to say listen.
It was a feeling that gnawed at my heart,
as though my heart were wood for a beaver.
How I had wished for that happiness to come.
I can forgive the many petals that land on my clothes,
the drops of rain that soaked me to the bone,
but with you there is no forgiveness.
Only hate. Only the growing vengeance
And hate keeping me alive.
Nothing is ever pure of heart,
except the blossoms. They all bloom.
Much like love and hate do.
Erin’s “The Falling of Rain”
Always there is rain after rain waiting to flood.
A million raindrops falling onto
The vibrant green grass, leaving its
Diamond glitter. My yard is the store.
Today I woke up to the power of rain,
The beauty of what’s missing- the sun
The sun hiding behind the clouds,
While the rain falls to the ground.
I am a fool. Even as grass grows stronger
They still break. I feed the gaping mouths of the mower
With their remains. All this time I was waiting
For the sun to shine above us,
But really I was waiting for you to apologize.
It was a feeling fluttering inside me,
An overcast, a hurricane of the sadness,
How I had mistaken it for happiness.
I can forgive the weather,
The mud and puddles,
But with you there is no forgiveness.
Only forgetting. Only the lawn not being mowed
And weeds dancing in the wind.
Nothing is ever easy or true
Except the rain. It floods.
Dependable as a season.
Carter’s “The Roasting of Rays”
Always there is sun, causing shimmering
simmering light. The kids swimming in
their phony, periwinkle, plastic pools. Teen
girls sitting in the sun. Adults too busy
working to have any fun.
Rays of really resplendent radiance running to the earth.
Creamy clouds crawling cross the sky,
relieving the sun with a relaxing rest.
High schoolers sleeping in late in their
calming, comfy cots. Messing with their
perfect phones, proudly pretending to know pleasure,
but knowing nothing but pessimistic pain.
Summer showing nothing but somber sadness,
feeling sorry, yet showing nothing.
High school students submit to the sorrow of school.
Summer is stopping.
Sadie’s “The King of the Mountain”
Birds let out their cheerful song
into the warm throne room. Golden petals
filled the empty comforting air. These flowers
have been blooming since the prince died.
Today he thinks of who he all lost
all those years ago because of the humans.
Water flowed from his watering can,
mimicking the tears his family shed
all those long, painful years ago. He felt
empty as he thought of his once perfect family.
He’s a fool. Even as hope dwindled in the monsters,
he pledged war against the humans.
The very creatures that trapped him and his people,
were also going to free them
with their strong souls. All this time he was praying
that no more humans would fall down,
but really he was praying to free his people.
It was a sorrowing feeling that devoured him,
like his heart was butterscotch cinnamon pie.
How he wished for his former life.
He could forgive his wife for leaving him,
the humans who killed his children,
but with himself there was no forgiveness.
Only blame. Only his golden flowers
And chirping birds to comfort him.
Nothing is ever whole or complete,