Listening

Today is Tuesday, and I should have been writing my post, but what I decide to do instead is visit other bloggers through the Two Writing Teachers site and listen to others. Then I’ve responded, I hope thoughtfully, the way I would’ve wanted from my students, practicing what I preach. And after listening to five people, I return to my inbox for a break—real listening takes effort as does conscientious response—to see today’s “Shelter in Poems” offering “blessing the boats” by Lucille Clifton.

blessing the boats

Lucille Clifton – 1936-2010

(at St. Mary’s)

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that

During my 2018 year of memorizing a poem each month, I had written about my connection with that poem. Just seeing my husband’s photo of our bay front, boats still chugging out to earn a living aware of the unpredictability of the sea, and rereading this story from one of those moments—and students—I’ll never forget, brought me here today.

5 thoughts on “Listening”

  1. “real listening takes effort as does conscientious response” How true. I would always try to impress on my students that saying things like, “I like this” or “This is good” wasn’t really a comment. It is important to be specific in comments and show the writer that you have read and thought about what they have written. Commenting like listening, is a skill that must be taught.

    1. I agree, and I’m not sure we tout it as a writing skill as much as we could. The response is the dialogue. I wish I’d focused more on it when I taught! Thanks for reading (loved your poem today!)

  2. I love that you focused on listening and commenting today, savoring the writings of others. Thank you for sharing that beautiful poem – it is new to me. I love the photograph at the top of your blog! Thank you.

  3. That poem is absolutely beautiful, thanks so much for sharing it. I regard the sea with a great deal of respect and awe, I would hate to have to make a living on it, this poem captures that ‘dicing with death’ kind of feeling so well.

    1. Lucille Clifton is one of my favorite poets. I heard her read a couple of times before her death. “blessing the boats” fits where I live on the edge of this continent perfectly, but the wish is for us all, wherever.

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