Today I got to spend a lovely couple of hours outdoors with a group of high school creative writing students. We practiced using all of our senses to describe a place, wrote a praise poem about a small natural object we collected, and then we took a walk along a poetry trail created by our wonderfully talented and energetic hostess, who happens to be the students' teacher. She's made beautifully decorated pieces of wood painted with lines from the Mary Oliver poem "Sleeping in the Forest" were mounted to trees along our way, and I gave the students the assignment of choosing a line that spoke to them and using it as a jumping-off point for free writing.
The line that struck me was "pockets full of lichens and seeds" and went a little fanciful with my free write:
Autumn trips across the land,
her pockets full of lichens and seeds.
She casts acorns in a game of dice—
snake eyes mean winter's on its way.
Where her toes touch down,
mushrooms spring up—pink, gold, purple, cinnabar—
peeking through their coverlet of leaves.
The mosses, though—sphagnum, cushion, club—
resist her touch, glowing emerald green
in the slanting sun.
And the tiny white pine, its wiry needles
gray-green but defiant.
That's all I had time for before we had to round the students up and herd them back to school.