April is National Poetry Month and the word lover in me can’t let it float by unnoticed. So I am going to celebrate by sharing this little story.
Last fall, my husband and I took our 14 year old daughter on a solo trip to New York City. She earned it the year before with perfect grades, but that is not to say she had a perfect year. Junior high can be brutal. She survived year one and, when we left on our trip, was off to another rough start in year two.
Leaving junior high to explore art museums and see musicals was a wonder for her. I had this hope that the trip was changing her. Somehow, I dreamed that she would return with perspective reaching beyond the four walls and 800 kids in her junior high school.
On the last day of the trip, we were wandering around the New York City Public Library gift shop when we came upon a silver necklace charm. On one side of the charm was a compass. On the other was a quote from a poem I know well. It is a poem my dad used to often repeat to me on the way to school:
“I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.”
As I turned the charm over and over again in my fingers, I remembered those drives to school and knew why my dad used to repeat that poem to me. Those 14 words precisely encompassed what I also want my daughter to believe about herself.
My husband and I bought the necklace and pressed it into her hand saying–this is true. You are more than your junior high school. More than your peers or your grades or the parties you are invited to. The potential for you has no limits. You ARE the master of your fate! You ARE the captain of your soul!
There was this rare moment of complete communication between us. She put on the necklace and has worn it every day since.
Junior high is still rough waters, but when I look at her necklace, I feel hope. I think she does too. I still marvel that those 14 words have the power to say to her what my heart was searching to say. Poems can do that.
April 24th is Poem in Your Pocket Day. The simple idea is to carry around a poem that means something to you. I am printing out the poem “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley where these favorite two lines are found. I am going to carry it around in my pocket that day and remember driving to school with my dad and another day in New York City. And I’ll hope for more good days just like those.
Other ways to celebrate National Poetry Month:
Poems for Sale: Sell poems to your children by marking and sharing your favorites together.
Jump Rope Rhymes: Have you ever made up your own?
Poetry Graffiti: Doodling and writing at the dinner table.
My Favorite Poems for Moms : Sometimes we meet great literature too early. Here are some poems that mean more to me now that I am a mom.
And at least 30 more really good ideas at Poetry.org