Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Summer reflections

I am participating in the
 Slice of Life.  
All participants are writing about one moment, one part of their day, 
on Tuesdays.

                                                        Thank you, Two Writing Teachers!

Once again, I woke with a jumbled mix of emotions. This is my new normal. I expect this criss-cross, up and down, swirl of feelings now, what with the larger world in painful disarray and my personal world filled with lots of unknowns due to my surprise retirement from classroom teaching. I am trying to find peace with all the uncertainty. I am trying to breathe into the pause that is all about. Yes, I have a settling feeling of unsettled. 

Today, my youngest, my baby boy, turns 25 years old, and that adds to my mood...I am delighted with him and bursting with love, stunned at the passage of time, frustrated for the ways in which he might feel that his life is more or less on hold due to this pandemic, happy that he will be making a socially-distant visit for our traditional family birthday cake, "The Ingram Family Mess Cake" (we cook a rich chocolate syrup of a frosting, then cut it and pour it into the warm yellow cake in all sorts of jumbled ways, creating more of a pudding texture and definitely a mess), and then laughing that our traditional cake matches the current state of affairs of my mind...and I realize I'll be okay.

After a few early morning minutes of no clear thinking, I got up to write, assured that my twenty-month old granddaughter ("Frog") had another hour to sleep. 

Frog spent the night with us...it is wonderful to live close enough to see her regularly. Our two households are keeping wise and respectful about COVID, allowing us to be sort of a 'pod' or a 'bubble' together, and see one another regularly. We love the sleepovers! We've decided to try these once a week through the summer, to allow Frog's parents a little special time alone each week (and to allow us, the grandparents, the opportunity to immerse ourselves in this dear little one). She'll be headed home before her uncle's birthday festivities later this evening, due to this darn COVID. We find that we can't keep Frog socially distant, she is full of physical love and connection at her age. 

Well, as life will have it, I had no sooner grabbed my journal and pen, when Frog let out a piercing cry from her crib...I rushed into the room, only to find she had somehow flipped up a section of the portacrib's 'mattress' revealing a section of hard surface and this was obviously not comfortable to sleep on and very troubling. The good news - her cry was probably of surprise, not of pain. All the same, she was not to be convinced to lay down again, even though I was able to fix the problem and soothe her. No, she was up, up, up.

So, lucky me! I scooped her into my arms, prepped her morning bottle, and we went out to the porch. Frog drank her morning bottle, cuddled beside me, and we listened to the early morning sounds, felt the soft air, and smelled summer all around us. 

Just being with her is to live in poetry:

We see the soft, white, puffy clouds

dotting the early morning pale blue sky.

We hear the birds, 

we search for the birds,

Frog points up high, towards the tree,

we watch

one solitary bird,

two, then three, now five birds together,

darting across the sky.

Frog grabs my thumb with her free hand,

caressing and squeezing,

lets go,

grabs her big toe, then

all her toes,

raising, stretching her leg in the air.

We see the tree branches, 

wiggling with the wind.

Frog sees one bird sweep down,

sitting on the lawn,

darting back up to the telephone wire.

There's a bird on the wire,

I sing to her,

in my best Leonard Cohen.

She smiles at me, 

humming along,

mmm mmm mmmmmm.

One tiny feather floats down 

from the sky,

softly, gently, slowly.

Frog is a salve for me during this time of transition.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020


Today's poem completes the June Open/Write on Ethical ELA. I struggled all day with this poem, trying to write a poem about my 'emotional state' without actually naming what that state was...the prompt and inspiration came from the author Melanie Crowder, who provided an engaging and detailed process for writing this poetry...one which I hope to revisit in the days ahead. This poem does not follow her process as intentionally as I had hoped to do. Ah, well.


It’s as if I have been staring

only at one light

bright and falsely clear

blinded by its singular rays

somehow unaware

above, within, and around

luminescent shadows

dance and invite,

flickering, lurking, leading

right there all the time

no longer unseen

revealing, reflecting, releasing

now drawing my full attention,

irresistible shadows of


Tuesday, June 23, 2020


This is day four of the five-day June OpenWrite at Ethical ELA, and I have not followed the prompt, but written my own poem: 


He was an eight year old

Beyblade, yes, he was,

when I first met him.

Do you know this spinning toy?

Very popular with his peers,

tough on teachers,

hard on the outside,

something mysterious within -

wound tightly, tighter, tighter, then


My preschool room was

a calming space he visited

every now and again

through the years.

He would mold clay or sand,

banter with the children, and

I would wonder

how often

is he free

to be

a little boy?

Who is holding him tightly and loving him dearly?

Year in, year out,

he continued

hard on the outside,

something mysterious within.


just eight years later,

all of 16 years young,

our Beyblade is arrested,

charged as an adult.

Frederick Douglass said it would be easier

to build strong children than to repair broken men,

yet we have failed him,

this child,

with still undiscovered mystery within.

Too much to drink

I am participating in the
 Slice of Life.  
All participants are writing about one moment, one part of their day, 
on Tuesdays.

                                                        Thank you, Two Writing Teachers!

I am thinking of a friend. 

There's a story she used to tell, with lots of laughter and embellishments, of how she met her policeman husband; they've been married so many years now. Yes, you see, she was all of 26, it was a Friday night, following a long, hard week of work, and she went out with girlfriends, to release and unwind. She had too much to drink. She had WAAAAAYYYYY too much to drink. She remembered dancing at the bar, laughing and carrying on with the girls. Then, it was time to go home. Her girlfriends asked her if she was "good," and she assured them yes, and they drove off in their cars and she sat down in her driver's seat, and realized, oh no, I cannot drive. She passed out behind the wheel, in the parking lot of the bar, sleeping off the booze, and, thankfully, not driving anywhere.

Small town, USA.

She woke up to a flashlight in her eyes, a tapping at the window, a policeman's query, "You okay? What's going on here?" He asked for her driver's license, he talked back and forth with her a bit, and in the end he said, "What, say, we leave your car here, and I drive you back to your place?" 

Wasn't that kind of him?

She got in touch with him the next day, to thank him for taking care of her and to apologize for her behavior. He asked her out on a date, and the rest is history.

I haven't seen this friend in a long while. I wonder if she's comparing her story to that of Rayshard Brooks, who was also 26 and passed out behind the wheel of a car? I wonder if her husband compares the two stories?

What 'passes' do we give to certain people, who fit a certain mold? 

How do we treat people differently?

How do we rationalize our behaviors?

What assumptions do we make about those that are different from us?

What makes us treat others less compassionately? 

How do we, 

as a society, 

dig into this

the invisible, 

within us,

that keeps us from seeing 

the full human before us?

“Racism is not merely a simplistic hatred. It is, more often, broad sympathy toward some and broader skepticism toward others.”
― Ta-Nehisi Coates

Monday, June 22, 2020

Bends just so

It's day three of the five day June #OpenWrite at  Ethical ELA . Today's prompt is a 'memory poem,' and encouraged us to think of how certain sensory experiences trigger memories. There is a certain part of my neighborhood walking path that never ceases to take me back many, many years in time, to my college days.

Bends just so

The wooded path bends just so,

softly descending, curving,

meandering through the trees, and

I am back in Durham, New Hampshire,

the wilderness shortcut in the heart of campus,

leading me onward,

daring me to hope and explore.

The natural medley of seed,

blossom, growth, and wither,

branches stretching and interlacing above,

diffused light and precious breeze,

I am both set and set in motion.

The wooded path bends just so,



inviting me towards,


there’s more ahead,

there’s more to seek,

there’s more.

Here are the comments I received on the Ethical ELA website:

Glenda Funk

There is a special calling in a “wooden path [that] bends just so.” I have an image of that path through your words. My favorite line is “I am both set and set in motion” and the paradox of this line. Lovely poem. Thank you.

Tammi Belko

I love the way you lead the reader down your path with “the wooded path bends just so”. I could identify with your moment because it reminds me of the wooded college campus I attended years ago. I also love that this poem is more than just a walk in the woods it is a journey towards knowledge.

Margaret G Simon

I like the repeated word at the end, and how it leads us forward on the path with you.

Katrina Morrison

Your title draws us in, and then the path takes over leading us through the poem. I never heard of college woods before. You made me want to be there.

Kevin H

That imagery of the world “bending just so” is wonderfully evocative

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Papa and the dolphin

It's day two of the five day June #OpenWrite at  Ethical ELA . Today's prompt was entitled "small fiction" - the challenge was to begin with an actual event, person, incident - some basis in fact - and turn it into a bit of fiction, have a little fun with it. Not sure why my mind wandered back in time to a story my Dad would share about swimming in the ocean once, and having a dolphin nudge up against him. I had a little fun writing this - and it seems like a children's fable now.

Papa and the Dolphin

In the middle of his swim,

making laps along the shore,

Papa saw he wasn’t alone,

there were dolphins by the score.


He began to swim away,

wanting to let them be,

when one lifted him up, and

dropped him right into the sea.


Papa sank deep down under,

came back up with a sputter,

the dolphin just smiled,

clapping his fins with a flutter.


Papa, astonished, said,

“Wait, you did that for fun?”

The dolphin explained,

“You seemed a lonely one.”


So began a friendship,

a playful one at that,

the two would meet daily

when Papa swam his laps.


When you are given the chance

to befriend someone new,

try kindness and laughter,

plus an open point of view.

These are the responses I received on the Ethical ELA website:

Tammi Belko
Tammi Belko

What a great message. Love the joy that is spread in this piece.

glenda funk
glenda funk

indeed, your poem is a fable. I love the playfulness and the cadence, which replicated the ocean sounds. I can see this lyric as a picture book. The last stanza is my favorite. We can’t go wrong w/ kindness and laughter. Thank you.

gayle sands
gayle sands

This would be a beautiful children’s book! If I could illustrate, I would begin today. But I can only admire…

Linda Mitchell
Linda Mitchell

So wonderful! The language is playful and light and inviting. Papa and the Dolphin needs to grow into a book!

Andrea Busby

Maureen, what a great message! Even as he tries to be respectful of their space, his respect grants him a place in that community. I think that is an important message, especially when paired with “try kindness and laughter/plus an open point of view.” Allow people to be and you will find yourself being with people.
Thank you!


This poem was magical, Maureen. I love the way the lines seemed playful in their beat and rhyme. These lines really sank into my heart: Papa, astonished, said,
“Wait, you did that for fun?”
The dolphin explained, 

“You seemed a lonely one.”


Saturday, June 20, 2020

Precious you

It's Saturday morning. The school year ended yesterday. Yes, I am fresh off a school year, my last year of teaching full-time, stepping into my 'surprise retirement' [see my previous post!], not sure what awaits, tiptoeing into my future...and I find an early morning invite from Ethical ELA to participate in the 5-day June OpenWrite. What could be more fortuitous for me at this time?

Perfect for me, right now.

Just what the doctor ordered.
The doctor believes in the healing powers of poetry ;-)

today's inspirational prompt was to find a list in a notebook, try to hone in on one word of the list, and just take a leap, with that word at the heart of my poetry. 

I found myself thinking about my granddaughter's acquisition of language, the ever-growing list of words that she is discovering and trying out. Here's my poem, and the comments I received on the Ethical ELA blog where my poem was first posted:

Precious you

Love you

well, layoo,


well, buhb.

step up

well, sepah.

Precious you,

so true,

not quite two

years old,


two syllables

two words


to talk

to the world.


Marilyn G. Miner

Marilyn G. Miner

I can hear the two-year old voice with so much love and life. Your list captures so much of a mother’s heart.

Linda Mitchell
Linda Mitchell

Oh, what a loving capture of your grand daughter at this stage of her life. Wouldn’t it be great if all of us had such a loving Grandma to write us a poem like this? “Precious you…is the title! I just know it.” Please make this her birthday card this year. It’s so personal and lovely.

Jolie Hicks

Jolie HicksI can almost hear the “precious” little one, trying out her new language and enjoying the celebrations! This piece will surely be a nostalgic reminder of this season in her life. I appreciate your crafty alliteration, reinforcing her “two-ness.” Thanks!

glenda funk

Glenda Funk

There’s a poem I taught in AP Lit about a child learning to speak. I can see the name but not spell it. 😂 It is unusual. I’ll find an share ASAP! Your poem takes me to that place of innocence, and I am thinking about the inclusive language your grandchild will learn from you. Love the invented words: layoo, buhb, sepah. These make me think about how our world needs new ways of speaking. ❤️ Thank you.

Emily Yamasaki
Emily Yamasaki

So beautiful! I wish we could all hear her sweet voice. What a beautiful thing – speaking words. Thank you for sharing this!

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

It's over, move on

I am participating in the
 Slice of Life.  
All participants are writing about one moment, one part of their day, 
on Tuesdays.

                                                        Thank you, Two Writing Teachers!

There have been so many moments that have felt like The End

Perhaps it was emptying my classroom, for the final time?

Back in February, I asked to leave full-time teaching. I know/knew it was time for this phase of my career to be over. I no longer had the right spirit and energy for the lead teacher position; it was time to shift into another role. I had every intention of working part-time at the school - I love my school, this community. I suggested ways to support teachers in their work with children.

My administration was excited about this, too. 

Then - boom! Pandemic.

There have been so many moments that have felt like The End.

Thinking about new positions in the midst of smaller, stressed budgets is not to be. Not just yet. We don't know what comes next, what awaits in this new year.

Contracts went out in April, and there was no contract for me. Not even a simple, "we're not sure about next year, but we love you."

It was eerie, honestly.

Then, one month ago, a beautiful paragraph in a note to families, announcing my retirement. 

Sharing important announcements about next year's staffing...We want to celebrate Maureen's retirement and wish her well...Maureen Ingram, Founding Preschool Teacher, set the tone for the vision of teaching and learning for our youngest students. She has given a special welcome and many remarkable experiences to preschool students and their families over the years. Maureen's contributions, from her writings to her thoughtful words, will stand in support of children for years to come.

Wait, what?

What just happened?

There have been so many moments that have felt like The End.

I have been retired.

I did not retire.

The school retired me.


As I loaded my things into the car, I inadvertently snapped a selfie mid-process:

This is me, right now. These days. A clear image of the chaos I feel - mask on, hair flying every which way, all mixed up I am.

Everything about the world these days is 






mixed up.

There have been so many moments that have felt like The End.

My little piece of this seems so trivial in the midst of all else.

Loading my car with all my 'treasures,' those things that I want to keep?

I had to make two trips; yes, I filled my car twice, with belongings. I can't quite say 'over.' There are things I may still need, working with children, in some new way. 

I never wanted my career in early childhood to be over. 

It's not.

Stay tuned.

Pema Chodron, "When Things Fall Apart" - 

The only time we ever know what's really going on is when the rug's been pulled out and we can't find anywhere to land. We use these situations either to wake ourselves up or to put ourselves back to sleep. Right now - in the very instant of groundlessness - is the seed of taking care of those who need our care and of discovering our goodness.