Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May in Review

My Reading

Books read: 14.  It's been a weird month, but I guess that's not actually too bad overall.  I didn't have many standouts this month though.  


I saw Sherman Alexie's new picture book, Thunder Boy Jr. and couldn't resist.  I read it to my classes the next day.  I'm still hoping to finish up The Girl I Used to Be and A Tale Dark and Grimm with my classes before school lets out next week.   My seventh graders are loving both of those.

Mildly Disappointing

I read two sequels that let me down: The Epidemic and Prodigy.  I love how much some of my students love Suzanne Young's books, but The Remedy was the only one I really liked, so I was even more sad that its follow-up went back to unexplained suicide epidemics and teen romance.   Prodigy was better, but nothing remarkable.  Marie Lu's Legend was just good enough to keep me reading despite the glut of dystopians I've read in the past few years.  I will probably finish the series all the same, in hopes that Legend is the weak middle link.

Snow Like Ashes is another decent book that falls prey to genre overload on my part.  Been there, done that. And could the cover be any duller?   Brown Girl Dreaming fell victim to hype and excessive expectations on my part.  Girl Against the Universe took a terrific premise and kept it all a bit too light for my taste.  3 stars for most of these, but I rated The Epidemic only 2 stars.  


I finally read the first in the Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi, The Stonekeeper..  It was pretty darn good.  I should really get over being surprised when I like graphic novels that my students adore.  I also finally got around to reading The Eternal Smile, three thematically linked graphic stories by Gene Luen Yang and Derek Kirk Kim.  Wildly imaginative.  AKA kind of weird.  I also finally read Lauren Myracle's Shine, which I've had checked out for months now.  Intense, as expected.  Let's Get Lost was a fun read with enough complexity to keep me interested, and enough ridiculous coincidence and silly situations to keep it from getting too heavy.  Charm and Strange was nothing like I expected, probably because I somehow had gathered it was a middle grade novel, so I wasn't expecting the very dark tone and topic.  3.5, maybe 4 stars for each of these.

Wow, wow, wow!

I real a lot of okay books this month, but I did manage to read three great ones as well.  Rain, Reign by Ann M. Martin was excellent.  I read it in one sitting, right there in the library.  I will never disrespect the author of The Babysitters Club again.   Another book I read in one sitting without even making it to check-out is the graphic novel version of Walter Dean Myer's classic, Monster.  This is probably the first time I felt a graphic novel was easier to follow that the original text.  The original is written mostly as if it were a screenplay, one the narrator is constructing in his head to help himself deal with the reality of being on trial for contributing to a murder.  Well, a graphic novel is an excellent way to share a screenplay.  I finally felt like I understood the book.
4 stars for these two books.

Without a doubt, though, my favorite book of the month was NOT one I could finish in one sitting.  At a robust 465 pages, Six of Crows took even me several days to get through.  I am not a fan of the Grisha series, giving up on it after just one book, but I am so glad I took a chance on Leigh Bardugo's new book.  My only regret is that I didn't wait until the next book is out, because I hate waiting between books in a series.  This book reached all the notes I expected Shadow and Bone to hit for me--the European-ish history vibe, the racing adventure, the camaraderie, the romance that hits snags based on who the characters are, not plot contrivance to keep them apart.  LOVED IT.
 5 stars

Assorted Stats

So far this year: a full half of the books I've read I've given four stars to.  I'm still reading mostly white, American female authors who write contemporary fiction.  My goal for May was to read 50% authors of color, and I succeeded, reading six white authors and eight non-white authors.  Reflection post to come.

My Writing

This is my 15th post of the month, which is far fewer than the previous months, but perfectly aligned with my averages before then.  I did write one post in May inspired by my "read more authors of color" project.  I started participating in the Sunday Post this month, thinking it might make this monthly wrap-up shorter.  Hmm.  Nope.  My apologies.  My most popular post this month was about the visit my students and I took to see April Henry speak.  My first post of the month, sharing my frustrations with students I never got to read all year must have struck a chord with fellow teachers, as it got the most comments. 


There is a lot I've already covered in those Sunday Posts, so I'll just mention a few key things.  I interviewed for but did not get an entirely different job.  High school students in my district staged a walkout over racism in our community, which triggered a lot of emotion in my middle school.  The emotional ups and downs of all that were swayed dramatically (well, for me)  by the news that I will be getting a Book Love Foundation grant that will allow me to buy about 500 new books for my classroom library.  Lastly, Memorial Day weekend was a blast, featuring a brunch with old friends, a long walk in a park with my son, s'mores around the fire pit in our back yard, and a day trip to the beach.  

Looking forward

In June I'll be spending four days at the beach for a writing workshop/retreat.  I've never done something like this, and I'm wildly excited about it.  Also, my first post on this blog was June 28, 2015, so it looks like my one year blogoversary will be at the end of the month.  I'll have to figure out something fun for that.  And this month I'm hosting the giveaway for Nicole at Feed Your Fiction Addiction's Wrap-up Round-up!  It seems fitting to make this venture into offering something to the blogging community this month.  

Poetic Word Clouds

Check out these word clouds My Poetic Side made.  They demonstrate which words are the most frequently used in each poet's oeuvre.  For example, Maya Angelo:

Maya Angelou


Presented by My Poetic Side

For comparison, here's a word cloud I made out of enthusiasm after reading Six of Crows.

This is the link I have for it, but I am not sure if you can see it when you click the link.  Sorry.

TTT: Professional Books I'm Looking Forward to Reading This Summer

The theme for this week's Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is beach reads.  The term, to me, says light, quick reads.  But that's what I read when my brain is overtaxed.  During the summer, when I have a couple of months off from work, is when I read books that require deep thinking and even note-taking.  There are many professional books I've been wanting to read all year, and I hope to get to most of them this summer.  Luckily, most of them have self-explanatory subtitles!

1.  The Writing Thief: Using Mentor Texts to Teach the Craft of Writing by Ruth Culham.
2. Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading by Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst.
3. For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood (and the Rest of Y'all Too): Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education by Christopher Emdin.
4. So What Do They Really Know? Assessment that Informs Teaching and Learning by Cris Tovani
5. Reading Ladders: Leading Students from Where They Are to Where We'd Like Them to Be by Teri Lesesne
6.  Deeper Reading: Comprehending Challenging Text, 4-12 by Kelly Gallagher  (Alternate titles by the same author: Readicide: How Schools are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It, Reading Reasons: Motivational Lessons for Middle and High School, and In the Best Interest of Students: Staying True to What Works in the ELA Classroom.
7. Passionate Learners: How To Engage and Empower Your Students by Pernille Ripp.  Pernille writes a blog about her 7th grade language arts class, and every single post makes me say, "Yes, this," or "Wow, that's great."   I can't wait to read her book!
8. Mini Lessons for Literature Circles by Harvey Daniels and Nancy Steineke
9. Reading Unbound: Why Kids Need to Read What They Want and Why We Should Let Them by Jeffery D. Wilhelm, Michael W. Smith, and Sharon Fransen.  Also known as, "This is What I Think About Reading."
10.  Finally, I'd like to re-read two books that are significant in my development as a reading teacher and even, corny as it sounds, as a person.   Book Love by Penny Kittle and Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Sunday Post #4

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer.  It's "a chance to share news, a post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog."

Reading This Week:

I finished four books this week, which is a decent amount for me.  Definitely started to get my life back this week, including some reading time.  

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin was definitely the best one of the bunch.  I read it at the library last Sunday while my son and his buddy played on the computers.  It took just over an hour.  Martin's Babysitter Club carries such a taint of churning-out-series-to-make-a-buck to me, which is completely unfair since I've only read the Raina Telgemeier graphic novel adaptations, and they seem rather sweet to me.  But this book is definitely unique and written by a "real" author, not a hack.   Rose is a girl with Asperger's Syndrome, a dad who doesn't get it, a fondness for homophones, and a beloved dog.  There are shades of Beverly Cleary's dog Ribsy, handled beautifully.  I would have preferred a different solution to her dad's issues, but overall this is a terrific book.  4 stars.

Prodigy, by Marie Lu, was my only non-white author of the week.  I liked it, but not as much as the first book in the series.  3 stars.

Girl Against the Universe, by Paula Stokes, has a great premise.  Maguire has been the sole survivor of a car wreck, the only unhurt child in a roller coaster disaster, and the only girl who didn't get violently ill at a slumber party.  She's decided that she's cursed, and has developed an OCD-level system for checking the safety of those around her.  This is balanced against a fairly typical teen romance with your basic hot-but-troubled teen hero.  A fun read, but not particularly memorable, beyond the premise.  3 stars.

The Epidemic was disappointing.  I read The Program and The Treatment based on student recommendation, and while I understood why she loved them, they were a little hysterical for me in my advanced age and maturity.  Still, I was interested enough to read The Remedy, and found it far more interesting than the first two.  So I was fairly eager to read The Epidemic.  I wasn't expecting anything earth shattering, just a fun, quick read.  Instead I was bored, confused, and irritated.  The characters all seemed flat, like ideas of people rather than actual people.  The situation begs explanation, which we never really get.  How is the suicide epidemic engineered?  And why?  These seem like fairly important questions to gloss over.  2 stars.

Blogging this week:

This is only my third blog post of the week.  I wrote a post about my favorite changes I've witnessed in my lifetime--and yes, some of those were book related.  Then I wrote my responses to a tag about my TBR pile.  Both of those were fun to write, if not particularly deep.  

Life this week:

In the job arena, I have good news, bad news, and great news!

The good: After seven years in a windowless room with cement walls and a lopsided pentagon shape that makes classroom setup really challenging, I'm being moved to a rectangular room with windows next year!  These are at a premium in my building, so I'm excited to have some time in the sun, literally.

The bad: Didn't get the job.  Apparently all four schools hired internally.  

The great:  I am getting a grant for 500 new books for my classroom library.  I applied last year to Penny Kittle's Book Love Foundation, and did not receive a grant, but the application process itself gave me lots of ideas and encouragement for things I've tried this year, like this blog, and the conferences I've been to.  This week I got a call from Penny herself saying I'm one of this year's grantees!  I can't WAIT to start getting the books!  

In the rest of my life, let's see.  We're working on getting labels designed for my husband's wine, prepping for our son's birthday, and continuing to work slowly on projects around the house.  My son and I took an hour long walk in a local nature park yesterday and saw chipmunks, squirrels, a wren, a Stellar's jay, a downy woodpecker, and a very cool looking garter snake.  

I'm going into the last full week of school--4.5 days the following week, very little of which will be academic in nature.  So this week is really the last big push.  I hope your June starts off well!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Intimidating TBR Pile Tag

My husband loves puns.  He just does.  And I get a kick out of how much fun he has with them.

Last week he said, "Did you hear about the book blogger who died when her books fell on top of her?  It was sad, but she only had her shelf to blame."

Ha, ha, ha, WAIT!  That could happen. To me.  And yes, I would only have myself to blame. My TBR is out of control.  There are nearly as many books on my Goodreads To-Read shelf as their are on my Read shelf--over a thousand.  I currently have 29 books checked out of the public library, and there is a stack of eleven books sitting on my desk at school, items I've swiped from my own classroom library to read.  I have started (with intent to finish) five books.  THIS IS NOT GOOD.

But then I saw this fun tag about this stressful topic on A Fool's Ingenuity.  

(I'm not sure why I call them "tags," since I always steal them and never pass them on, but I guess it sounds better than "random assortment of book related questions that are floating around the internet.")

My TBR pile isn't any smaller now, but the questions were fun!

1.  What book have you been unable to finish?
I started listening to A God in Ruins, after listening to Kate Atkinson's Life after Life, then my headphones broke when I'd only heard about a third of it.  I checked out the physical book, but it looks so BIG that I just can't  get myself to pick it up again.   Instead, I just keep renewing it.

What book have you yet to read because...

2. You just haven't had the time?
I've heard such great things about Red Rising, and I bought it for my classroom library, and I know EXACTLY where it is, and I so want to read it but...I honestly haven't been able to find the time.

3.  It's a sequel?
I just read Marie Lu's Legend a few weeks ago, and now I need to read the next two in the series.  

4.  It's brand new?
The Haters.  One of my students just finished Jesse Andrews' Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, and asked me to get his latest book.  And I will, but jeez, it's brand new and I can't find it for less than $15.  

5.  You read a book by the same author and didn't enjoy it?
I read Leigh Bardugo's Shadow and Bone and wasn't very impressed, so I didn't read the rest of the series.  But now that I am IN LOVE WITH Six of Crows by the same author, I'm reconsidering my stance.  

6.  You're just not in the mood for it?
Turtle in Paradise.  Maybe it's because I just read The Fourteenth Goldfish, also by Jennifer L. Holm. Maybe it's because MG novels aren't my favorite.  Maybe it's because I'm jealous of anyone who lives at the beach.  Maybe it's because the author never looked up or stopped chatting with her agent during a signing I saw her at, and I'm irrationally holding a grudge.  But I am just not in the mood for it.  I checked it out, because, irrational grudge aside, I do think Holm writes great stories.  But then I took it back to the library, because I couldn't even get myself to pick it up and read the first pages.

7.  It's humongous?
A Storm of Swords (and all following).  I finally delved into George R. R. Martin's world last summer, and made it through the first two books.  I just couldn't make it any further once the school year started again.  Those things take commitment!  

8.  Because it was a cover buy that turned out to have poor reviews?
I'm reversing this one.  I have two books on my immediate TBR that have gotten great reviews, but that have covers that just aren't luring me in.  Walk on Earth a Stranger is something I should really like.  I loved Rae Carson's fantasy trilogy, and I grew up on "pioneer historical fiction."  But--I just can't get motivated to read it.  Something about the cover and title is just weird to me.

 The Tequila Worm by Viola Canales is a middle grade novel that is both #WNDB and #ownvoices, and I totally want to read it so I can push it on my students.  But between the orange/red color, the busy-ness of the illustration, and the worm itself, the cover is hideous.  I just don't want to physically handle it.

9.  What is the most intimidating book in your TBR pile?
Okay, this is a little awkward.  In January, I decided to do the 12 month classics challenge, so I borrowed David Copperfield from the school library.  I have read and enjoyed a lot of Dickens in the past, but never read this work.  

It has sat on my bookshelf ever since.  I have not even OPENED it.  It's a great big book with little tiny print and a cracking plastic library covering.   So much for THAT challenge.

10.  Who do you tag?
Yeah, like I said, I don't really do that.  But feel free to take it and make it your own!  

Monday, May 23, 2016

And Now For Something Completely Different

I took my kid and his friend to McDonald's yesterday, because nothing else quite encompasses that feeling of "I'm a terrible parent/I'm a great parent" so well.  They got Happy Meals.  I got a mocha.

"Nonfat or whole milk?" the clerk asked.

And I thought--forget the internet.  The absolute best change that's happened during my lifetime is that we've gone from bad drip or percolated coffee to espresso drinks being so common that McDonald's is offering me options about my drink.  Then I noticed their coffee ground recycling program--instead of tossing their grounds, they're letting patrons take them for their gardens.

Get.  Out.

Now, I am a creature that tends towards nostalgia as my default setting.  In middle school I started a photo album for my Camp Fire Group, and appointed myself the title of Group Historian.  Still, this got me thinking--what else in my lifetime has actually changed for the better?  And thus was born a non-book related post.  (Except since I'm writing it, books will most likely sneak in in some form or another.)

1.  Coffee.  I've already explained that one, so I'll just share a semi-related anecdote.  When I was in Peace Corps 20 years ago (ouch), our group was divided into TESOL (teachers of English to speakers of other languages) and Ag (agricultural advisors).  You can imagine the cultural divide between the two groups.  Well, okay, 95% of us were recent college grads, and 100% of us had joined PC, so we also had a lot in common.  Anyway--one of our Ag volunteers was teasing another one for liking lattes.  "Rednecks don't drink lattes" she scoffed.  The latte drinker, however, was from Startup, WA.  Being from Oregon, I was able to assure her that his response was accurate.  "In the Northwest, they do!"

2.  Okay, fine, the Internet.  Sure, there are downsides to it (the comment section and the potential for time suck leap to mind), but if it weren't for the internet, I'd be writing my thoughts down in a blank notebook--or not bothering.  Yes, we did just fine without it for millennia, but rather like air conditioning, once you've gotten used to it, it feels like a necessity.

3.  Public attitudes about sexual and gender identity.  Yes, there's a long way to go.  (See: public attitudes about race, gender, religion, and disabilities.)  But the changed during my lifetime are incredible.  Many (not all) middle school students in the podunk town where I work are accepting of GLBQT people.  When I was in middle school, nobody was accepting of GL people, and I'm pretty sure I wasn't the only one that didn't even know BQT? people existed.  What I've learned about transgender people in the last decade alone represent significant change.

4.  The rise of the library as EVEN MORE than a repository of books.  It started with libraries adding books on tape and VHS videos.  Then a few computers with databases.  Now we're talking Maker Spaces and family movie night and this terrific bike repair station I just found outside a local library.  Board games, 3D printing labs, and yes, even cafes serving espresso drinks.  It's like a wonderful love affair, where the other person just keeps giving you more and more reasons to adore them.

5.  Speaking of books, the second golden age of YA lit is pretty terrific.  It's almost hard to imagine now, but I went from reading children's books to reading adult lit.  Sure, some of both categories would now be considered YA, but overall, there is so much more available now.

6.  I feel a certain nostalgia for the days of rotary phones, but I have to admit that having a phone/camera available at all times is pretty cool.  Let alone all the other things you can do on a phone.

7.  After our McDonald's stop yesterday, the boys and I went to check out a new park in our suburban city.  It's a wooded area, and 1.5 acres are set apart for "off-trail play," meaning the kids can wander out directly into the woods, and allowed to climb trees, build lean-tos, etc.  So, clearly this is not a new thing as much as a return to an old thing, and it is a little weird that we have to designate places like this, but--man, did they love it.

Do you have anything to add to this list?  Any quibbles?  Those of you who grew up with those things, isn't it crazy that my generation didn't?  Kind of like talking to my mom about washing the device that separated out the cream after she milked the cow.  

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Sunday Post #3

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer.  It's "a chance to share news, a post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog."

Reading This Week:

Okay, this is something new.  I haven't finished any books this week.

Well, okay, I've read a few picture books start to finish, but that's it.  It's been a weird week, okay?  I've also started several read-alouds (to students and my own kids) and have read parts of two books.  By the time you read this, I may have even finished one or both of them, if my evening goes as planned.  But as of Saturday at 7 pm, I have not read any full books this week.


Update: Just finished Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes.  3.5/5 stars.  Great premise, and I liked how therapy, tennis, blended family, and friendships were included.  The romance was a sweet, but not very memorable, and it was pretty easy to see where everything was headed.  

Blogging this week:

Also unimpressive.  The top ten topics haven't been floating my boat lately.  For the Slice of Life community, I shared a poem I wrote five or six years ago, and I reviewed Six of Crows, my favorite book I've read recently.  Again, I might get my act together to get another post up before this one, but it's not looking likely.  I did stumble across another blogger who is organizing an online Diversity in YA Book Club, so I cleaned up the jotted list I have of authors I want to read for my "More Authors of Color Challenge" this month to share with her, and I hope to participate in her book club.  

Life this week:

After seeing the dismal statistic above, it should come as no surprise that the category of Real Life was pretty overwhelming this past week.  I mentioned last week that I had a job interview Tuesday, so I was obsessively putting together, practicing, and tweaking a presentation for that for the first part of the week.  Then there was a walkout at our local high school, protesting a political (he says), racist (I say) sign posted by a student in the cafeteria, and my middle schoolers basically lost their ever-lovin' minds.  I've been teaching for around twenty years, and I have never had an experience like that.  Thursday I had some students shouting at each other and others crying in the corner.  I had to call admin into my classroom a few times, but they kept having to leave because the whole building was in the same state of chaos.  The high school kids did an amazing job at running an organized, peaceful act of civil disobedience that drew attention to the way racism simmers just below the surface in our community.  The middle schoolers, well--they are middle schoolers.  They had a LOT of EMOTION about it, but no actual plan, or ability to listen to other points of view.  So we as the adults in our building are scrambling to come up with something that will let them share their voices, but also encourage them to listen to others.  Something that will keep them safe from violence, but not give in to our own fear of chaos and disorder.  

Oh, and my daughter's final choir concert of the year was today.  

We've been eating a lot of microwavable food this week, is what I'm sayin'.  

I hope to get more reading and blogging done in the next week, although let's be honest--next week might be nearly as intense as this week was.  Still.  I miss words.  

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Review: Six of Crows Made Me Rethink The Grisha World

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Published 2015 by Henry Holt and Company

465 pages, fantasy.

I was disappointed in Bardugo's first book set in her Grisha world, Shadow and Bone.  I never really connected to the characters, and overall I felt it didn't live up to its potential.  Still, I was so smitten with the cover of Six of Crows that I decided to give it a chance.  After all, many writers do improve with time.

I am so glad I decided to read it.  Six of Crows has so many terrific things going on, and Bardugo balances them all expertly.  There is the heist, of course, but more compellingly there is humor and heartache, love that heals and love that wounds, politics made personal, the personal swamped by politics, magic, MORE MAGIC, and one of the most gorgeous covers ever, not that that should influence my opinion.

(That cover though.  Coal black page edges and blood red end pages.  The raised lettering on the front cover.  The use of that gorgeous crow/city illustration as chapter headings.  This is one of the most beautiful books I've seen.)

Whenever an author uses multiple points of view, the two main risks are that they will all run together, and that some voices will be more interesting than others.  Bardugo completely avoids the first problem.  The characters are not narrating in first person, so Bardugo doesn't have to invent a new voice for each of them.  She does give each of them their own personality, and if some of those seem familiar (ruthless bad boy with tragedy in his past, super smart geek disowned by mean dad), don't worry; she puts her own stamp on all of it.  (Ruthless bad boy is WAY more ruthless than in your typical YA fantasy, and super smart geek is illiterate and gay.)  Some of the characters get more rounding and are easier to get invested in, but with more books coming, it will be interesting dig deeper into the backstories of the additional characters as well.

About those backstories--the book starts right off with the action, and you start to get a sense of who these characters are.  Then she starts with the flashbacks, which give the reader a better feeling for what made each of the Crows the way they are.  I really enjoyed the secrets and surprises that were revealed this way.

I kept hugging this book; it was making me so happy.  I am not happy about waiting months for the sequel, but I'm considering giving the original series another try, now that I've become enraptured with the world Bardugo has created.  

4.5/5 stars

*Have you read this?  What did you think?

*Have you ever had that experience of loving one work by an author but being left cold by their other works?  

*What's your take on bad boys who do truly bad things--can they still be adored, or is that morally problematic?  

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

SOL: On Becoming an Adult

After completing the SOL Daily writing challenge in April, I've decided to link up occasionally to their Tuesday posts.  Two Writing Teachers host this fantastic community.

There's a lot going on right now.

A lot.

Both reading and blogging are falling by the wayside this week.  But I was just looking through some old documents on my computer and found this sort-of-poem I wrote several years ago, before we adopted our kids.  I thought I'd post it here for the SOL challenge.  It's a slice of my past.

It's also the only free verse poem I've attempted in about 25 years.  I've never worked out how to write poetry that isn't just prose with weird line breaks.

When I first realized I was an adult,
I was so pleased.
Walking down a city street in a strange land,
carrying a sack of groceries
purchased with money I’d earned myself.
A few years later, another sign.
The twelve-year old looks up trustingly from her desk
and asks me to feel her forehead
to see if she has a fever. 
Becoming an adult
is what you spend childhood preparing for
(especially those of us
who spend our adolescence rolling our eyes at our classmates’ antics).

But now it seems that time
insists on carrying me along
in her relentless march.

My mother gone
too soon for her, with projects started in her studio
seeds ordered for the garden
talk of a camping trip next summer
and too soon for me.
I still need her guidance.
“How do I do this?”
I want to ask
as I lay on the table while the technician
rolls a wand over my belly.
She peers at the screen, not looking for a telltale tail
but just to determine if this unending ellipses of a period
is merely my body giving up on fertility in yet another way
or the sign of something more malignant.
This ultrasound won’t become my profile picture
won’t be posted on my fridge
at best, it signals hormone therapy and hot flashes.
“How do I do this?”
I want to ask Mom,
veteran of heart disease, stroke, breast cancer.
But when I get home, feeling forlorn,
there’s no Mom to call.

So I find comfort in some chocolate
and the nook of my husband’s neck.
Younger than me, but feeling his age as well.
Twelve years without his father,
and the young bucks during harvest season reaching over to help with the heavy loads.
How do we do this?  It keeps getting harder.
And our foundations have disappeared.
So we do what they did.
We lean on each other.  We keep going.