NaPoWriMo 2020: Poetry from the trenches, Day 28

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Today’s prompt is “brought to us by the Emily Dickinson Museum. First, read this brief reminiscence of Emily Dickinson, written by her niece. And now, here is the prompt that the museum suggests:

Martha Dickinson Bianchi’s description of her aunt’s cozy room, scented with hyacinths and a crackling stove, warmly recalls the setting decades later. Describe a bedroom from your past in a series of descriptive paragraphs or a poem. It could be your childhood room, your grandmother’s room, a college dormitory or another significant space from your life.” ~ NaPoWriMo, Day 28

Quick shameless plug: besides celebrating my birthday today (it’s already April 29 here, in Switzerland), I’m celebrating the publication of a poem written during NaPoWriMo 2018. You can find it here. I’m beyond delighted and would like to encourage you, fellow NaPoWriMo-ers, to send your work out. Come May, take a short break, then start editing and submitting. NaPoWriMo restarted my creative engine three years ago and I’m so grateful for how it transformed my writing and my confidence as a writer.

Now, to the prompt. One of my favorite memories from my childhood is of my grandmother’s bedtime stories. She was a Romanian literature teacher in her village and had retired by the time I turned seven. Grandma had a great memory and a wonderful imagination and told me the most incredible, hilarious stories, mixing and matching folk tales and literature, and throwing in a dash of the real world for good measure. The poem below started with a bedtime story scene, but then, other wonderful memories vied for my attention and I had to let them all come. So the bedtime story–even though it’s the source of this poem–has a very small footprint in it. And I’m afraid I haven’t included much description of the bedroom (actually, bedroom / kitchen / occasional animal pen, especially for ducklings and lambs, so they didn’t freeze to death). Imagine a simple clay-and-straw brick house, whitewashed walls, a hearth. The smell of burning wood is divine. Also, because this is a village, it also smells of goats and chickens and pigs and sheep. I love those farm smells. These days, whenever I get a familiar whiff, my childhood comes galloping back–and with it, my grandmother’s love for me.

PS–Most of the poems written this April will remain online for up to five days, after which they will be replaced by an excerpt, an erasure, or a thoroughly amateurish art piece that will only allow for bits of the original poem to peek through. At least, this is the plan. The reason being that, at some point, in the hopefully not too distant future, these drafts will undergo revision and begin their multiple-year pilgrimage through the slush piles of many a literary journal. So help me, O Muse.

PPS–The original poem has been replaced by an erasure with the help of my cantankerous seashell angels. Now that the end of their servitude (that’s what they call it) is near, they’ve become nice again–even affectionate–except for a few snarky comments about how I keep them in gilded cages. We could be one with the elements on our maternal beach, they say. Instead, here we are, performing circus acts for someone (that would be me) who doesn’t appreciate us enough. I bow and smile and keep my mouth shut. Two more days. Fingers crossed.


Poetry from the trenches, Day 28




Here are some photos of a Romanian village, house interiors, and someone’s grandmother, all courtesy of this website that made me tear up with longing for my own grandmother and my childhood spent in her village.


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23 thoughts on “NaPoWriMo 2020: Poetry from the trenches, Day 28

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  1. Happy belated birthday! I love how poems are home to such huge emotions and memories – your words will hold this precious moment beyond it all. This is so warmly close to your heart, it feels like a privilege to be reading it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Happy birthday, surioara iubita! 🌻🎂✨What a glorious day this one that brought you into this world to share so much beauty with all of us. Always grateful for you and the golden words you spin from all threads of life. May the fates continue to be kind and generous, and offer your delightful children poems a book of their own very soon!

    And this poem, oh so lovely, mastery and heart-melting. A beautiful tribute to your sweet macuta and the loving place and creatures of your childhood.

    I feel that I know your macuta – “[quotes deleted by RI]” So divine! Cuvinte plamadite cu limba de aur…

    The photographs of the Romanian village are magical, and like you I have a sweet place in my heart for them. Thank you so much for this inspiring, loving gift. I love you always, sweet sister of my soul ❤🐝

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Marga–sora mea de suflet!🙏💜 I know there’s a special place in your heart for Romanian villages and the grandmothers that populate them. So happy you recognized some of your own past in these words. Much love to you–and looking forward to our sisterhood days, once the world goes back to some semblance of normalcy.🥰💜


  3. Happy Birthday! May your year be full of beauty and delicious words.
    I love the poem, I love the architecture and the goats and pigs and potatoes and your wonderful grandmother. all so beautiful and rich. (and that platform bed over the hearth is just everything we forget to be). Beautiful day to you. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww, thank you so much, dear Lindi–you made my day! That hearth bed is such a tactile memory–I can still feel its warmth and hear my grandmother’s voice in my ear, as she’s slowly falling asleep in the middle of a story…


  4. Much love for her and little you and all the bestias, even the bugs. You tell it gloriously. ❤

    I was in Romania twice, drove to Sibiu and Sinaia but mostly stayed in Bucharest. Didn't visit many villages. My Slovenian friend studied Romanian language and literature there. But I didn't go to Moldova.


    1. Aww, thank you so much, dear Manja!🥰🙏

      I lived in Bucharest for 9 years (my least favorite city in Romania). Sibiu is gorgeous! And I got married in Sinaia at the monastery, with a little poetry and music recital in front of the Peles castle. So you’ve seen quite a bit of ‘my’ Romania!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. One day, I’ll go back and travel around the country. There are whole areas that are still filled with mystery for me–Maramureș, for example. I wish I had more than one life at my disposal–so many things to see, books to read, poems to write.💜

          Liked by 2 people

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