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Hanging with fellow Georgia writers (from top, l-r) Tracy Walker, Heather Kolich, Donna Bowman, (bottom, middle) Janice Hardy and Paula Puckett
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Susan Rosson Spain, Robyn Hood Black, Elizabeth Dulemba, and Myra Meade at the Hall Book Exchange in Gainesville, Ga.
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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday: Full Hearts, Empty Nests, and Emily Dickinson

June 13, 2013

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, authors, school visits, students, teachers, ponderings, birds

Willow Tree figure, "Happiness," with student cards...

On Wednesday I grabbed a quick catch-up coffee with a dear friend. Years ago, she taught both of my kids when they were in fourth grade, and I was her room mother each time! Now the youngest, Seth, has just graduated (though not before visiting her classroom to talk about song writing with her students), and I’ve been continuing the tradition of visiting her class to talk about writing each spring. A couple of years ago, my oldest (Morgan, my rising college senior/ed major) tagged along. It’s been a great arrangement; I “experiment” with different writing activities with the students, and they get a little outside spice with their language arts.

Sharon has given me the most thoughtful, perfect gifts over the years as a thank-you. When the creative writing theme involved butterflies (catching ideas!), the class gave me a butterfly coffee cup, matching journal, and bookmarks. Once they gave me a heavy duty pen holder for my desk, decorated with pens on the outside. The most precious gifts are notes and cards from the students, which I think every author cherishes.

This week, along with a bow-tied stack of cards, Sharon gave me the lovely Willow Tree figure in the picture above. This one is called “Happiness” – and Sharon said it made her think of me. Well, that just fills me with joy, and much appreciation.

Willow Tree creator Susan Lordi says of this figurine, “I hope this piece is very open to viewer interpretation. For me, it is the pure joy that comes from creating — in all of its forms. A side note … I love bluebirds.”

I told Sharon the birds were appropriate, as the last thing I’d done before sunset the night before was fish a newly-fledged robin out of our pool. I scooped it up and set it on the ground, where, after sitting there not knowing what to do for a time while its parents fretted, it eventually hopped toward Mom, who escorted it up the hillside and out of my sight.

This baby was the last one to leave this year’s nest in the camellia bush. A big baby bird, I’d already mentioned to it that it was about time. That mama and papa robin had worked tirelessly harvesting gobs of worms to take to the nest day in and day out.

Obviously we have empty nests on our minds these days. My husband said he even got misty watching some baby robins outside at work the other day. They were learning to fly. So, let’s have a bird poem today, in which Miss Emily so beautifully renders the image of flight:

A Bird Came Down the Walk

by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

A Bird came down the Walk—
He did not know I saw—
He bit an Angleworm in halves
And ate the fellow, raw,

And then he drank a Dew
From a convenient Grass—
And then hopped sidewise to the Wall
To let a Beetle pass—

He glanced with rapid eyes
That hurried all around—
They looked like frightened Beads, I thought—
He stirred his Velvet Head

Like one in danger, Cautious,
I offered him a Crumb
And he unrolled his feathers
And rowed him softer home—

Than Oars divide the Ocean,
Too silver for a seam—
Or Butterflies, off Banks of Noon
Leap, plashless as they swim.

Click here for more information about Emily Dickinson and links to many of her poems.

Now, flap your wings and glide on over to Reflections on the Teche , where the thoughtful and talented Margaret has the Poetry Friday Roundup!

Also, if you want to see some gorgeous oil paintings, I featured works by my fellow-brand-new-empty-nester-to-be friend and amazing artist Ann Goble on my artsyletters blog this week.


  1. June 14, 2013 11:04 AM EDT
    I love this image in time. We've all had that split moment when 5 seconds turns into 5 minutes and something about it all touches our heart. *Sigh*...back to work now.
    - tina roberts
  2. June 14, 2013 11:28 AM EDT
    Such a warm and tender post full of good memories and friends and inspiration. The Willow Tree figurine *is* perfect for someone like you who has a bottomless well of creativity. Robyn's fledgling robin . . . sniff and smile :)
    - jama
  3. June 14, 2013 11:43 AM EDT
    Tina - what a treat! You always have folks big and small tweeting for your attention; I appreciate your pausing a moment here. :0)

    Hi, Jama - you always make ME smile. Thank you, and thanks for being an inspiration.
    - Robyn Black
  4. June 14, 2013 12:57 PM EDT
    Emily Dickinson is one of my favorite poets. The poem about the bird is clever. Your Willow Tree figure is the perfect piece of art to go with the poem. I enjoyed reading the poems and comments on a couple of other sites, too.
    - Patricia Cruzan
  5. June 14, 2013 1:29 PM EDT
    Hey Sis - I so enjoyed watching the wrens when I was at your house last month for Seth's graduation.

    Although the metaphor isn't necessarily in keeping with today's theme, I couldn't resist sharing with you these lines from Kahlil Gibran that I happened on this past week:

    You are the bows from which your children
    as living arrows are sent forth.
    The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
    and He bends you with His might
    that His arrows may go swift and far.
    Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
    For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
    so He loves also the bow that is stable.

    I thought of you, because of course you are named after the most famous archer in legend or fact and though you and Jeff are the bows that Gibran writes about you both also embody the Archer as well.

    And on a lighter note I love your generosity of spirit - you did not want to be the only one in our family with a name immortalized in literature so you chose to name the title character in one of your books after me!

    Have a great weekend and wish all the guys Happy Fathers Day for me - love ya!
    - "Sir" Mike Hood
  6. June 14, 2013 2:57 PM EDT
    A lovely gift, both your carved, bluebird-armed, angel and the poem.
    - Doraine Bennett
  7. June 14, 2013 3:32 PM EDT
    Beautiful post! Thank you!
    - Ruth (
  8. June 14, 2013 6:38 PM EDT
    Robyn, smiles, moist eyes, AND baby birds all in one post! Perfect. =)
    - Bridget Magee
  9. June 14, 2013 8:07 PM EDT
    Patricia, I love Emily Dickinson as well. Thanks for coming by and for your lovely comments.

    Hello, Sir Brother. Love those lines from Kahlil Gibran - I've read before but not for a long time. Appropriate in this season! Have a great weekend yourselves.

    Hi, Doraine - glad you enjoyed. Thanks.

    Ruth, thanks for visiting to read it! :0)

    Hi, Bridget - so glad you liked the combination! Thanks.
    - Robyn Black
  10. June 15, 2013 12:46 AM EDT
    Dear Robyn ~

    When our son left, I described it feeling like two ball bearings rolling around an empty house...but then it was a beautiful new chapter...blossoming.

    Thanks for the poem. I'm always fascinated by the capital letters...
    - April Halprin Wayland
  11. June 15, 2013 6:40 AM EDT
    It's taken me a while to comment because I got interrupted yesterday, and today I had to stop to send myself that Kahlil Gibran excerpt. Perfect! Anyway, your visits to fourth grade sound like something to look forward to each year. And that Willow Tree figurine expresses having a nature muse so well!
    - Tabatha
  12. June 15, 2013 9:11 AM EDT
    Howdy, April! (And, by the way, I miss you.) That's some great imagery - and I love the idea of "blossoming."

    Oh - and I'm always intrigued by those Emily Dickinson capitals, too. Thanks for coming by!

    Tabatha, so glad you found something for you today in the post and comments, as we're both in the "parents of new graduates" boat. And, "having a nature muse" - that's lovely. :0)
    - Robyn Black
  13. June 15, 2013 9:37 AM EDT
    such a lovely post, Robyn, and I too see you in that Willow figurine. What touches me most though is your brother's pop in with the Gibran! Sweet. Love when brothers are like that. And glad that baby bird wasn't drowned as I originally suspected. Hope lives! (I do believe Ms. Dickinson would agree with that too.:)
    - Irene Latham
  14. June 15, 2013 9:38 AM EDT
    So much to enjoy in your post today, and to contemplate. I am years past sending my children off to the wilds (we often said that as they went off to new adventures), but remember the feelings well. Your empty nest/robin stories brought that time back. Now my own children are watching theirs grow up so, so fast! It's lovely that you give your time to the friend's class, and the willow tree figure is wonderful. I have one that is a "reader" from a friend & treasure it. Thanks for the Dickinson poem too Robyn-ever something to ponder from her. What a rich post you gave us!
    - Linda Baie
  15. June 15, 2013 11:51 AM EDT
    Hello, Irene! Thanks for joining in. Mike will appreciate your comments, too! :0) Yes, he's a gem. That baby robin was pretty robust, and once it found its mama, I felt pretty good that it would finish drying off and begin the lessons of flying off.

    Hi, Linda - I thought of you with this post, the way you've so perfectly described some of life's tricky transitions, and the way you embrace what's ahead. I haven't seen the Willow Tree reader figure, but I'm sure it's wonderful. (And now I'll think of you, too, when I enjoy my gift from Sharon!)
    - Robyn Black
  16. June 16, 2013 7:57 AM EDT
    That Dickinson poem is a great reminder to simply observe, without meddling!
    - Mary Lee Hahn
  17. June 16, 2013 9:58 PM EDT
    Mary Lee - so true! Though I did have to scoop out that baby from the pool... but I'm quite sure none of those robins would have tolerated my trying to feed them ;0)
    - Robyn Black
  18. June 16, 2013 10:27 PM EDT
    Such tender, wonderful imagery - that tells us as much about the bird as it does about the one viewing it.
    - Matt Forrest
  19. June 18, 2013 12:53 AM EDT
    Hi, Matt! Yes - reveals much about both, doesn't it? Thanks for coming by!
    - Robyn Black

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