This Poem was Submitted By: carole j mennie On Date: 2003-08-05 16:37:14 . . . Click Here To Mail this Poem to a Friend!

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Upheavals  I found twelve, a dozen fossilized trilobites and brachiopods chipped from millennia-old strata. I plucked them from solid rock on a field trip to Ontario, an adolescent brush  with ancient earth sciences. They had been muck-dwellers; these simple creatures scuttling across  the bottoms of ancient seas. Some supernatural Medusa who thought them ugly as I did,  had turned them into sandstone-colored rock and thrown them back on land. At home, I tossed my prizes unwashed, into an old trunk thinking even eons couldn't improve this lot. But I was wrong. A scant year after college, my mother's illness brought me home. Surprise! There, cleaned and polished, elegant in their simple shapes and intricate detail, I found my fossils on display, a Paleozoic parade  across my mother's glass coffee table. Weeks later, after she'd died I sold the coffee table but kept the rocks-- trilobites, and brachiopods-- in which she had seen beauty. Mother always had a knack for plucking pearls out of any old oyster.

Copyright © August 2003 carole j mennie

This Poem was Critiqued By: Erzahl Leo M. Espino On Date: 2003-09-05 09:00:01
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.67857
Hi Carole, Pardon me for the late comment. I just drop by to say that I really enjoyed this one! Your message is clear and comprehensive at the same time informative – informative in the side of Paleontology. You bring back those childhood interests we have in dinosaurs. But most of all, it is full of “heart” and very personal. Readers can easily relate to your overwhelming gratitude to your Mom, whom I found very dear to your heart. I like how you use “Medusa” to your fossils, as something that was turned into stone…old, ancient, motionless, lifeless and prehistoric. I like how you present your true story in the entire poem, stanza by stanza. The flow and sequences are properly laid out, readers can easily catch on your topics and scenarios. You get straight to the point! From the introductory stanza that tells your interests, to your field trip, to your discoveries, to your safe box “the trunk”, to your Mom’s illness, to her adoration to your work, to her death, and last to the coffee table. The main topic is about your fossils yet you superbly spice your story with tidbits of your personal accounts, and memories of the home. This is such a nostalgic moment for you I believe. And I like how you shade your words with such reminiscing pastels. “Mother always had a knack for plucking pearls out of any old oyster.” --- I believe these are the most powerful lines of the entire poem. It summarized well your poem. I believe, this is also my most favorite part! It brings goosebump to my spine. It is such a striking phrase, such a powerful message. It shows that our number fan in life is usually our parents, for they see beyond our own capabilities and limitations. :) Kudos on your powerful work here Carole! This is such an endearing poem! I enjoy the read! As always, Erzahl :)

This Poem was Critiqued By: Jennifer j Hill On Date: 2003-09-01 11:25:27
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.24444
I like the way you think Carole. This peice gives me a warm fuzzy without being sappy. It reminds me of my own Mother and how even though she has been gone 6 years now, I still connect with her in some very wonderful ways and when It happens I always look to the heavens and talk as though she can hear me. There are many things I wish I would have said and done with my Mom in moments that are lost now. But her memory lives on in my life and especially when I find myself saying something she would have said or remembering how she dealt with situations. The name "Upheavals" is perfect for this reflection/ode. You have written an ode in a unique perspective about how your mother showed how proud she was of you. It is delightful without ever using flowery words. The free verse structure lends itself perfectly to this type of poem. "I found my fossils on display, a Paleozoic parade across my mother's glass coffee table." I like the prasing of this line and the ending is especially nice: "Mother always had a knack for plucking pearls out of any old oyster." Thanks for sharing and making me remember my own mother. Blessings, Jennifer
This Poem was Critiqued By: Joanne M Uppendahl On Date: 2003-08-22 15:19:29
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.77778
Dear Carole: Your poem's title "Upheaval" serves as a foretelling of what is to come to the narrator of this poem. This poem has an incredible sustained metaphor. You allow the reader to experience the unnoticed value of the events, of the ephemeral nature of life along with a seemingly belated discovery of what is truly to be prized. I would say that your mother passed along this special "knack" to you, as evidenced by this poem! I found twelve, a dozen fossilized trilobites and brachiopods chipped from millennia-old strata. Your wondrous sounds are enhanced by liquid l's and variants of assonant i's in "fossilized/trilobites/brachiopods/millennia" for example. I plucked them from solid rock A rock is such a symbol of strength, solidity, permanence. I cannot help but draw a parallel her with the sturdy qualities of your mother as shown in the final two stanzas. on a field trip to Ontario, an adolescent brush with ancient earth sciences. They had been muck-dwellers; these simple creatures scuttling across the bottoms of ancient seas. Some supernatural Medusa -- WONDERFUL! who thought them ugly as I did, had turned them into sandstone-colored rock and thrown them back on land. Again, I want to stop and savor your use of sound - for example, in the 'u' of "supernatural/Medusa/ugly/trunk/unwashed" and finally, "plucking." The Greek mythology of Medusa, who turned anyone who looked at her to stone, and who was finally killed when decapitated by Perseus, seems especially apt here, and enhances your theme of transformation. At home, I tossed my prizes unwashed, into an old trunk thinking even eons couldn't improve this lot. The lines above remind us that often we fail to see the true meaning of the events and people in our lives under much later. Your thoughtful, meditative poem stirred remembrances from my own experiences. I believe other readers will profit from your perceptions as well. But I was wrong. A scant year after college, my mother's illness brought me home. Surprise! There, cleaned and polished, elegant in their simple shapes and intricate detail, I found my fossils on display, a Paleozoic parade across my mother's glass coffee table. This stanza with its vivid imagery and shocking discovery is highly evocative. What a gift to the speaker, and to the reader, of finding what is beautiful and meaningful in what has been "tossed. . .unwashed." Weeks later, after she'd died I sold the coffee table but kept the rocks-- trilobites, and brachiopods-- in which she had seen beauty. It is her vision which informs this poem, in this reader's view. She sharpens our own sense of aesthetics and ability to sense value in ourselves and others through her daughter's poetry. A true gift, and given as generously as she would have done. Mother always had a knack for plucking pearls out of any old oyster. I cannot find enough superlatives to tell you how much I appreciate this tribute to your mother's wisdom. I feel enriched by this reading, and am delighted, once more, to find another of your works. Brava! All my best, Joanne
This Poem was Critiqued By: Brandon Gene Petit On Date: 2003-08-14 15:45:54
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 8.75000
This poem is unique and well thought out. Although it doesn't have a good flow or catchy rhyming pattern, I lean towards it as a fellow fan of paleontology. You describes the strange trilobites well and I like to reference to them fossilizing as being turned by medusa. Any- thing that takes me back to the early ages of life speaks to my soul. Nice work - good luck on your digs. - Brandon
This Poem was Critiqued By: Claire H. Currier On Date: 2003-08-13 10:43:55
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.04348
Carole richly done my the way you open with your own search and treasures found yet not very impressive so they were placed safely away in a trunk perhaps for someone to find and indeed mom did find......her love was etched into your findings and preserved for life and the best being displayed with her gentle touch. How you must have loved seeing them on her coffee table when you came home that visit and I am sorry for her loss as is never easy saying goodbye to someone you love so much...her treasures left behind for you to hold onto will remain within your heart forever along with her memory. love the structure, word flow, images and closing line...Mother always had a knack for plucking pearls out of any old oyster. Thank you for sharing this emotional piece with us.....a fun piece too for one's treasure is never known until seen through the eyes of someone else. be safe, God Bless, Claire
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