With non-verbal children there is often some confusion with communication – at least there is with mine. I get pretty good at piecing the elements together, using context and intuition to fill in the gaps. I draw from similar requests and repetition to increase confidence in my guesses, but there still is a lot of guessing. For someone who loves words, it presses me to use other senses to figure out what is wanted and needed — not bad practice for a poet to look at things from different angles. Usually a poem crafts an image into words, but process can also be flip flopped by taking words at random and crafting them into a poem. I wondered if Emma and I could write a poem together this way. I could supply the words and she could play with them. So…
We poem-ed in the woods, where leaves fall speechlessly too, random but voiced.
I made two lists. One of nouns and one of descriptive words. I wrote them down on card stock, cut them up into pieces and took them with us on the day’s adventure. When we sat down for a rest we pulled out our words and I let her randomly lay them out in couplets. We did this twice, once at a bench and then at the stump pictured above. She really enjoyed this task, especially at the stump. I didn’t expect that actually, but I’m already thinking about ways to expand our partnership: have her write the words out, (because she is pretty good at copying letters), have her choose words on her iPad communication device, or use picture symbols which may increases true preferences.
Then it was my turn to play with the couplets she gave me. You can read the product below. The very first Emma/Laurel poem — stay tuned there may be more to come.
We’ve had a summer
as rare as a long-haired Dragonfly
as forgotten as an old bone dogs try
to sniff out, dig up and savour again.
When the dust diffused settles
and you, Emma, pit-stop back to school
all speckled pink and powerful – sage –
while I return to Mom-Friday-ing
to give-in-errands, barnacled together,
do not worry, now we know
and we won’t stop stepping out, Chickadee.
© 2017 Emma and Laurel Archer
The Summer in Sentences so far
I took your picture; you took mine. Then a turtle – Summer! – the first day!
(No need to mention Walmart.
Nobody thinks that’s much fun.)
Toys R Us: museum of the mature, fun house of the child at heart.
Dad, curious about what he was missing, followed us like pond ducks.
Canada Day: too hustling-bustling. We reversed momentum.
No! I won’t go! she said, using her body punctuation – two stomps.
(So you don’t have to wonder
where we are on harder days )
Before it gets hot, let’s find our spot – walk, and hope for dogs on leashes
Cool happens in sunglasses; brother lets sister bask in his brightness.
Even Big Screen projection can’t imagine the possibilities!
Since the theatre worked, we tried church and slipped out before the preaching.
(All that moss is falling off
Our rocks have started rollin‘)
As Emma stirred the holy waters, plainsong stilled our harried hearts.
© 2017 – Laurel Archer
Summer Sentences is a writing project using Allen Ginsberg’s American Sentences Poetic form — one line of poetry containing 17 syllables, an adaptation of the Haiku. The project is an expression of our mother-daughter outings through the summer. It may not show it (now or ever) and we may not be brave enough to display our failed outings, but all this takes some courage for both of us. The goal is to be out of the house, hanging out together and enjoying some places in and around our home.