A Heart Like Mine

Mostly Poems

My Beloved Unruly Hellions

You said they would be a handful. Unruly, even. Making the impression that they were untamed beasts, needing to be controlled. And God help the grown-up who tries with her good intentions and well-planned credentials to do so. 

I decided a long while ago, after a little girl left our world and danced into her kingdom song, that humans were not mere numbers. They must be more. There must be a soul within these little bones that question and search so. 

So I braced myself on the first day of school and tried hard to remember that my love for them that I would have, but not there yet. I tried hard as I painted their names onto their desks and cubbies, traced the letters of their names onto labels and folders again and again. Each name a chance to utter a small prayer for, but completely void of any faith or anticipation for success. 

In they walked, with timidity and shyness - an unknowingness of ability to trust. New faces. New names. I guess we were all a little wary. I don’t trust who you are until we can find some common ground. Us humans- such a mixture of doubt and hope we house in the same body. 

They are my treasures now; these nine-year old souls that need simply to be seen, heard, and hugged. I discovered that one of them needed space. Space to move, space to freely speak, space to put his anger. One of them needed a blanket to calm, to put weight on him when he thought he would unravel. One of them needed and secretly wanted a structure. He needed to know that there are boundaries. Every time he tested them, it was a desire to know, this is how far I can go. I am kept. I am woven in. One of them needed compassion, so every time she lied about a headache, arm ache, leg ache, etc. I said “I am so sorry that hurts.” I poured on attention to the ghost ache, because really, it was a thirst for something bigger. One of them needed me to laugh at her jokes. One of them needed to feel important. One of them needed to get lost in a story in order to forget the one that is her real life. One of them needed to write a daily poem about fruit. They all needed to know that they can be poets, scientists, mathematicians, or anything they want to be really. One of them needed help zipping her backpack because her Harry Potter books were ever-abounding. One of them needed to be left alone. And then around January, I predict, he’ll crack a smile because he knows I can be trusted. 

I discovered also, that they are loud. They stomp. They fight. They climb over seats. They push. They shove. They throw themselves on the ground and scream. They don’t complete assignments correctly, or sometimes at all. They have so much trouble following rules. They spill things. They twirl in circles when I say “walk in a straight line.” They forget things. They speak out of turn. They get bad attitudes. 

But they are mine and they are my treasures. They say I’m sorry when they hurt a friend. They say yes ma’am after they accidentally talk back. They have genius ideas. They help each other. They pick up trash without me asking. They take things to the lost and found. They clean up when they make a mess. They try again next time. They look at me with a pure desire to be validated. They remind me of things I forget. They draw me pictures of flowers, their dogs, their dirt bikes, or ninjas. And say with pride “Ms. Martin, I want you to have this.” 

The ones who meant well to warn me of what I was getting myself into were a little bit right and a little bit wrong. My students do thunder in like a herd of wild animals at 8 am. Ready or not. Other teachers bring them back from lunch exasperated. But these little ones have captured my heart. Because their hearts, I suppose are much like mine. Thirsty to be known. Wanting to be hugged. Needing healing for what hurts. Shaken by the bad things. Looking for the good things. Hating the harsh taste of consequence. Feeling fulfilled when a right thing was done. Confusion at the mystery of grown-ups. Wonderment of nature. Endless love of weekends. Jittery excitement over a crush. Love of writing time. Hatred for Math. Nervousness over tests. 

I sometimes wish I could control them for my sanity’s sake, but I know they are just like me. 


Your Jacket

I wanna wear your jacket around my shoulders.
I wanna wear your ring on my finger.
I wanna ask you to marry me in the dark.
I wanna drive away fast with you down 250.
I wanna listen to all our favorite songs in a row.
I wanna drink coffee instead of sleep.
I wanna keep the things you leave at my place.
I wanna go on dates with you on weekdays.
Cause I’d rather have memorable Tuesdays
than be practical and check all the tasks.
I want my hand to find a patch of your skin.
Like a clear place in a field of grass.
Distracted by you - 
A quite right way to sweetly fall. 


A Poem By One of My Students

Missouri Outside On the Swing

It’s fun.
It’s exciting.
It’s funny.
It makes me feel scared.
because there’s a bee hive
10 feet away. I wonder
if I’ll get stung.
It’s red, it’s bright,
and it’s warm.
Bees buzz, cars swish,
birds tweet, and
leaves ruffle. It makes me
feel tall because
the swing is low
to the ground.
On the swing
On the swing
On the swing

Shutting, Opening

I’d like to shut my past, like a window slices a stinging winter wind
like a creaking old book closes after the final page is read
like a summer screen door slams after groceries carried in
like the shutting of a drawer,
a locking of a box
causing darkness to fall on everything outside it
the mistakes, the earthquakes
the things I let into my world through the cracks,
their winds, they shook me 
losing my balance and sight.

I’d like to let love in like morning sun through white blinds,
like a pouring of wine into an empty glass
like raging whites of waterfalls on hard brown river rocks
like friends enter through a door
laughter raining in our ears
causing light to fall on everything inside it
the steadies, the constants 
the things I now know that waver not,
my rooting, my ground, will not move
even in the unsteady currents. 


Summer Learnings

The first of summer, 
Sending my little ones off with a hug and a poem,
Trusting that all the efforts of my hands and feet will serve them well. And then the sudden freedom that comes quietly in to take the place of a rigorous routine. 

This summer has been a fistful of firsts. Discoveries of abounding gifts which have grown the soul in new, wide-eyed ways.  

This summer,
I went on a date with someone I didn’t know. 
I fell in love, good and right. 
I packed up a friend’s things, so she can move forward with the currents of her life. 
I made new friends and had picnics with them in sundresses. 
I tasted food from Uganda and listened to friends speak of heartache, fears, and experiences, around a feasting table, practicing the mystery and beauty of communion. 
I got lost in time, dancing the night away with old friends and new. 
I tried a gin fizz for the first time, loved it, then learned how to make it. 
I also tried an old fashioned for the first time, and rye whiskey for the first time. And loved it. And learned that you drink those outside in hammocks, or on a fancy date.
I took out the old 35mm Nikon and captured particles of the summer - friends’ sun-kissed faces, fields of flowers with the backdrop of rolling blue hills, and the playful smile of the face I have fallen in love with. 
I flew to California and met a little baby that has softened the hearts of my family.
I read biographies about women who are resilient and strong, who choose to search and find their answers in redemption rather than a cold ending. 
I learned to drive a boat and, 
After fifty tries, and several less than graceful moments, I got on water skis and let the boat pull me along, smooth and fast. 
I learned to be bold in prayer, no matter how thin the words sound to me. God is concerned with every inch of the human experience. No matter how small. 
I have re-discovered Al Green, Bill Withers, and Aretha Franklin, the sounds of which provide a soulful and accurate narration of these summer evenings. 
I talked about the church and the struggles of community at 4 am with my brother on the hour drive to the San Francisco airport. I love how smart he is and how his thirst for a logical argument has turned into an ability to bring sobering truths to areas of grayness and confusion. 
I met Sandra McCracken finally, after years of pondering her music, and learned the healing waters of written word and communal song. 
I have learned most of all, that the character of God includes such rich kindness, and that as a result, life also incorporates such romance to it. Our days are not mere existence, but the color brought to us by flowers, the majestic beauty of mountains, the mischief and shenanigans that warm summer weather allows for and invites, messages and moods that music brings, the depth of friendship that a feasting table reinforces and strengthens, the art of a fresh-cooked meal, the expressions of dance, and the romance of hand-written notes and midnight slow-dances shared between a boy and a girl.

I am learning the good news of the beauty that sprinkles itself on our undeserving existence. 



It was long and constant sunshine, open air, golden hills, fields of sunflowers, rows and rows of grape vines, on rolling greens. It was daily jogs with Dora dog, an unconditional companion who remembers me. She faithfully trots by my side wherever I go (unless there’s a jack rabbit to chase of course). Her nose finds me under the covers, her paws find my hands. She remains in search of play and tenderness, teaching us all the simplicity of loyalty. 

It is sweet Ella Grace and her baby blues, her early smile, her grabby hands, her little breath, her sleeping body against my chest, her kicking legs, her wiggly feet, her ability to melt the ironest of hearts, and how because of her, our voices have changed to a lilting softness where we used to speak with a weathered hardness, her calm and easy presence, teaching us all of innocence and the strong language of laughter.  

It is the sound of my brother’s age-old jokes, and how childhood, though it takes years and mountains to overcome, it is sometimes the thing that roots you and keeps you close to the ground. 


A Study on The Wandering Soul

The human soul. Not just zeros and ones. We fall in love wholeheartedly with destruction, curling up to the mundane tightly every night. Asking it to fill us, fix us, bewitch us, as we quietly place around ourselves a tidy picket fence. We run out of time and patience for things worth waiting for. Things like good love, right love, love without anger, love without strings, love without a show, love that ushers truth, gently prodding us to become our best selves. Why can’t we receive all good things from the garden in good time? Why must we groan and wait and grow tired of waiting and as a well-thought out result, choose an easier path? Which is a mirage of love - scintillating and brilliant. It will give us smiles for a time, love for a time, healing and distraction, identification, belonging for a time. And as we near it, we will realize the image was a trick of the eyes. But I don’t fault the human soul for this. I give it credit for its unflinching resilience. We were all born lovers, fierce and pure. We pursue the things which pull and thrash at our heartstrings. Rightfully so. Us lovers, so blinded by beauty, which shows its face in the most unlikely people, unlikely time. Life is truly the wrong person at the wrong time, never perfect, always failing and thank God. For our always tearful, doleful winter of disappointment that leaves us paralyzed on the floor constantly calling our moms. Thank God for a sadness that guides our wandering desires to a source of incomprehensible, unwavering love. A true garden for which we almost have to thank our trail of tears for leading us to. 


"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our transgressions. It is by grace you have been saved."  -Paul

Airport sunrise. #wakingup (at Richmond International Airport (RIC))

Airport sunrise. #wakingup (at Richmond International Airport (RIC))

Airport Sunrise and You

Waking up in the Richmond airport.
Blazing sun adorning the stiff air of this elevator room, unsorry, through thank God windows. The coffee is bad but warm. 6 am faces. Breath of bodies who readied themselves. A shower, a suit, a bag, a set of belongings. We move and stop, wait and move. A transitory waltz. In it, my soul stays tied to yours. My waking mind forms fragments of prayers for you. The boy who has lined my path with solid stones of unafraid love and unabashed affection, my dirty feet know not how to walk on. You have lined my planet with trees of truth. My days feel the breeze and motion of your thoughts for me, like the sunrise lavishes it’s sweet face on us morning after morning, through no toils of our own hands. It is a doubt dissolving piece of evidence. A yes of the heart. A hope. Small yet unarguing in its existence. A daily reoccurrence which I am wholly changed by each morning. Time and time again.



The fireflies make a chorus of lights 
like a skyline that keeps flickering, 
hovering above the grass. 
How they sprinkle themselves 
over the darkening hills 
amid an early summer’s dusk. 
Perhaps it was the exact hand of God 
which tossed them so generously 
over the ground for us to happily watch. 
We look on, 
locked in a romance that has lasted 
from our days’ gracious mornings,
the sun freshly greeting each living thing once more, 
to these sweet endings
that we squeeze out the last drops of, 
like a favorite bottle of wine.