Looking Back (2004)
Looking back on time gone by,
Looking back; a biased approach.
Mistakes I've made, opportunities lost,
Wonder of the ultimate cost?
Looking back, life lacks coherence,
Memories have become distorted.
Events are tainted by faded emotions,
Paths ripped in time; lives disjointed.
Looking back, an era drifted,
Spent on petty worries and aggravations,
Frivolously designed to feed negativity,
Imprisoning lives in the depths of misery.
Looking back is vital for evolution,
Extract what is needed; move forward in faith.
Potential and opportunity arise from despair,
Looking ahead with hope delivers one there.
Patricia Ann Marshall
My Dogs (2006)
Sweet Pea is my oldest girl,
She barks at leaves and things that whirl.
Her eyes are dull; she drifts away,
To places and times from another day.
Sophie is the circus freak,
She flies through the air and has quick feet.
She steals my shoes and chews up the insides,
She smiles at me and doesn't even bother to hide.
Seanie boy just tolerates me.
He scans the fence for his great jail bust.
He prefers new people to us old ones,
When company goes it us he shuns!
The three together are quite the pack.
They bark, snort, and wrestle on their backs.
Ol' Sweet Pea is sometimes very cross,
She lets them know she's still the boss.
They eat roast chicken every day,
There are bones, special treats, and time to play,
Baths and brushing; only the best for them,
My spoiled rotten dogs; my three best friends!
Patricia Ann Marshall
Secrets of the Moon
Ande was already smashing rocks when Neona and I reached the special spot with our sticks in hand. Two summers ago, Grandma helped us find just the right spot by walking the rocky beach with us during the light of the full moon. She found a giant, glistening rock that we could find each year by walking fifty giant footsteps from the kitchen window of the house to a high point that faced the open sea. There we would find our glistening rock, waiting for us to arrive and for the contest to begin.
Ande swung and the rock loudly cracked against his stick. We followed it with our eyes until it disappeared into the dusty colors of evening sky and sea. Neona was up next.
In the background I could hear grandma talking to mom through the open kitchen window. The old two-handled faucet splashed water against the metal basin sink. I liked that sound. It reminded me that we were on vacation. My eyes focused on Neona who had just missed her second try at hitting the rock. I could see the determination in her little face. Finally, her rock and stick connected. While it didn't go very far, she jumped up and down, twirling among the rocks to show her pleasure.
It was my turn. The sound of the running water in the sink was behind me. As I stepped up to the magic spot, I could hear grandma talking and the clinking of dishes. The noises of the house were interrupted only by the sound of the crashing waves in front of me. The moon had become full against the early evening sky and its light danced over the water as if all the fish were shining flashlights up from the sea. I felt as if I were standing between two worlds.
Excerpt from Secrets of the Moon
Work in progress
Patricia Ann Marshall
The First Day of School
Every year, for the past twenty years, I've painstakingly prepared my classroom for the first day of school. No matter how many years go by the first day of school is wrought with anticipation of being ready to meet my new group of students.
Name tags are purposely placed on every desk with a sparkling new pencil. Books and folders are neatly lined up. The room is awash with color and appealing with fall decorations. Charts are made, the web site is prepared with important information, and our schedule is displayed for everyone to see.
My students won't see all the research I've done over the summer on great new science experiments, all the wonderful grade appropriate novels I've read, all the technology I've taught myself so I can teach them. No matter how much I prepare for their academic education, I still worry about something very important; their hearts. How can I prepare myself to teach them to be kind to each other, to love themselves, to have compassion for all the life around them?
Finally, the big moment arrives. Standing at the classroom door, I watch the rain falling and notice the vast collection of umbrellas shielding children from an endless downpour. The outside doors open and a sea of students enter the school for the first time of this school year. Wet sneakers squeak on the freshly waxed floors and the smell of new clothing hangs heavy in the air. Little ones with fearful faces are quickly scooped up by teachers and lead away from the crowd.
I greet each student at my door with a smile, a handshake, and a nod that everything will be ok. In a moment, the classroom door closes and everyone takes their seats.
The faces before me appear anxious in their shiny new clothes and sneakers. They've come with the expectations that all students arrive with on the first day of school. Expectations that this will be their best year, that this school year will be everything they've always wanted a school year to be. Some faces are filled with worry that 4th grade will be too hard. Some faces longingly look out the window wishing that summer would never have to end.
I take a deep breath as I study the children before me. I share that we'll spend time getting to know each other today; getting to know the routines, the schedule, and the expectations for behavior in our classroom. We'll read some good books and share about our families, pets, and summer. We'll begin the process of opening ourselves to each other so we can become more than classroom of people...we will become a team...we will become a family.
The neatly lined up books and shiny new pencils won't accomplish this. The organized charts and clearly posted schedule may keep us on task, but they won't turn us into a team. After twenty years I've learned that the most important part of the first day of school is filling the hearts of my students with love. Filling them up with trust that our classroom is their home; it is a safe place for everyone to learn and express themselves. Most importantly, I want them to leave on the first day looking forward to coming back tomorrow. Looking forward to the best school year they've ever had, looking forward to working as part of a new team and a new family. I have no doubt that I have all the tools I need to educate the minds of my students. It's their hearts that I worry about...have I prepared enough to educate their hearts? This is what goes through my mind as I look out at their faces for the very first time. This is what keeps me awake every night before the first day of school. This is the anticipation I feel as I wait for my new students to arrive.
Patricia Ann Marshall