BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL#28 “Red Daylilies”

RED DAYLILIES

The house is empty now
and no one tends
the flowers, growing still
along the walk where once
I strolled with Mama.

My hand in hers, she walked
with me and talked about
the blue hydrangeas,
Phlox of pink,
daylilies red, and
golden black-eyed Susans,
dazzling at their peak
of color
in the sun.

I walk along the
silent footpath now,
where only shadows move.
I miss Mama.

© Freeda Baker Nichols

BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL # 10

Banner MountainBanner Mountain Girl # 10

Sometimes when snow fell at Banner Mountain, my mother would look out at the big, white snowflakes peppering down and she would tell us kids, “The old goose is losing her feathers.”
            That expression coming from Mama was a pleasant thought but of course we kids were old enough to know it was a game Mama played – a game of make-believe. Why not just say, “Oh look! It’s snowing!”

            Too dull-sounding.

             A sky full of feathers falling off a goose nudged my imagination and gave me a reason to dream. That image was far more motivational than “Look at the big snowflakes.”
            Perhaps Mama’s way of entertaining us was the beginning of my desire to become a writer. Mama herself was inspirational to me. She always said I was happy with a pencil in my hand and a tablet to write on.
            My love for my mama and her love for me is the reason my first poem was written to her and about her.  I wrote it at school in cursive on a page in my Big Chief tablet when I was nine years old. And then I shared it with Mama.
            While I was not certain my little rhyming poem was as clear to Mama as it was to me, I’m thankful she was the first person, besides my teacher, to read my very first creative writing. At that time, there was no fridge in our house on which to pin up the poem, like parents can do today.
          But Mama kept it for me, and I still have it somewhere in my files.

© 2017 Freeda Baker Nichols

I Am A Poet

“The reason I am a poet is entirely because you wanted me to be and intended I should be, even from the first.  You brought me up in the tradition of poetry, and everything I did you encouraged.”—Edna St. Vincent Millay (undated letter to her mother)

This quote from Millay is in the margin of one of my journals.

Many of my poems have been written to honor my mother. But she never knew that I became a poet. Quite possibly the only poem of mine that she ever read is the one I wrote for her when I was around nine years old.

That first poem was addressed to my wonderful mother. And child-like, I excitedly handed it to her to show her my love.

As a teenager, I wrote a few poems, but kept them to myself. It would be years before I would turn to writing, not only poetry but also fiction and non-fiction. And by the time my work was being published, my mother (and my dad) had passed away.

They would have been pleased to see my name in print, to read my novel, the children’s books, the poetry . . . they would have been very proud . . .

I’m sure of it.

azaleas

Wild Azaleas

I found the wild azaleas growing pink
as cheeks hot-flushed in fever from a cold.
I drew the water for my mother’s drink
and placed the petals in a vase of gold.
I saw her shaking hands turn pale and dry
and move along the rim of china vase,
and then extend just as in days gone by
to mine. No one can fill my mother’s place.
Please do not bring to me your roses red
nor wipe away my tears that fall in sheets
to cover her new cemetery bed.
In Heaven she now walks on golden streets
while I go down a dark and dusty trail
in search of pink azaleas for my pail.

© Freeda Baker Nichols

The Littlest Star

The littlest star on my Christmas tree
is one that shines so bright for me.
It was placed there by a little boy
who has brought his dad and me much joy.
He cut the star from felt so white–
it even shines in the darkest night.
Now, our son has matured and grown.
He’s now a man with a home of his own.
He trims a different Christmas treeOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
in another state so far from me.
As I remember his childhood days
and think of all the many ways
he brought us joy and happiness,
I know how truly we are blessed,
and in the light of that little star
our wishes go so very far
to kiss a little boy on the head
in another state in a little bed.
And I speak to that Star of Bethlehem,
shine Thy light so brightly on him
so that Thy Truth he will grow to see
the Special Light of my Christmas tree!

© Freeda Baker Nichols

Christmas tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Am Also A Poet

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away.”
Henry David Thoreau

I’m a writer and I am also a poet.

I was a poet before I became a writer.

My first poem was created in a two-room schoolhouse at Banner Mountain deep in the Ozark foothills.

At the age of eight or nine, I wrote a rhymed poem expressing my love for my mother.

I still have the poem I penciled on a wide-lined page of a Big Chief tablet.DSC_0472 - Copy 1

But is that really when I became a poet? I don’t know. Perhaps it was later in my life when my first published poem appeared.  Or maybe it was when I received an award in a poetry contest. Or better yet, when I received payment from a national magazine. 🙂

Why did I become a poet? Again, I don’t know. The desire to create poems and stories was part of me from childhood. I wrote occasionally, but as time went on, my husband and our children were more important to me than writing. That feeling is shown here in my rhymed poem:

I am a poetess, Mama—
I wish I were a queen
having tea with diplomats
in a rose-trimmed garden scene.

I am a poetess, Mama—
I wish I were a clown
wearing a smile, wide and bright,
to hide my solemn frown.

I am a poetess, Mama—
I wish I were his wife,
the only role worth playing
in the grand opera of life.

© Freeda Baker Nichols

And so, I too, have heard the “different drummer” and that sound continues to be a blessing in my life.

How about you? Do you “step to the music you hear, however measured or far away?”

I’d love to hear from you!