Poetry Friday: “The Old Woman in the Yard”

poetryfridaybutton-fulllBefore we get into today’s poem, I need to repeat the news, in case you missed it: the incredibly talented Fred Koehler has signed on to illustrate my debut picture book, Flashlight Night (Boyd’s Mills Press), which is due out in Fall 2017!

This is a “first” of sorts for both of us – and if you read my post from this past Tuesday, you can find out why!

Now then…onto today’s poetry! Laura Shovan’s February poetry prompt series, the “Found Poem Project,” is in full swing (I hosted the project last Friday!), and today I have another poem to share that was inspired by one of her ‘found’ objects.

I don’t normally share poems that haven’t had time to sit and marinate for a while and be revised – this poem only took me about 45 minutes to conceive, write, and edit slightly – but I thought posting a rough draft of a poem for a change might not be a bad thing:

The Old Woman in the Yard

We’d walked this way for years.
Each time, we’d see her there
in burlap dress and bonnet,
hands clenched, as if in prayer.
Her back was always turned,
head bowed in silent thought;
we wondered (rather, worried)
should we bother her, or not?
So every time we passed,
we never said a word,
we never slowed our pace;
the woman never stirred.
And then one day we came upon
an empty, hollow space…
we’d never known her name.
We never saw her face.

– © 2016, Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

If you’d like to see the photo of the unusual object that spurred me to write this, along with all the other poems that Laura’s readers have contributed, please visit her blog today! And for all of today’s Poetry Friday links, head on over to Kimberly Moran’s blog, Written Reflections.


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36 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: “The Old Woman in the Yard”

  1. Leslie Skimmings

    I love this poem, Matt. It’s tender and touching. It made me think about my father who always greeted those he passed on the street, whether he knew them or not. It’s a good example to follow. Once there is an “empty space,” it’s too late to make that human connection. Keep up the good work. . . .wishing you all the best with your picturebook! Leslie


  2. So exciting about your coming picture book, Matt. I love what you did with my picture/doll, captured a feeling I think others of us have sometimes, that we “missed the opportunity” that should have been taken. You may want to work on it more, but I hope you keep that wistful sympathy in it.


  3. Karen Eastlund

    Huge congrats on the book, Matt. I’m sure it will be grand! I like your 45-minute poem. What might we find if we could explore every opportunity in our path?


  4. Many congratulations on your upcoming picture book, Matt. That is wonderful! I am fascinated that you called the poem you wrote a draft when it feels so right. 45 minutes – you should be very happy with the outcome of this word weaving.


  5. Poignant indeed, and old-fashioned in a lovely way. Congratulations on all your exciting new developments, Matt! Your carefully-conceived 97-point plan for success as a children’s poet is coming to fruition, just as you deserve. ; )


  6. maryleehahn

    Obviously, it’s okay to trust yourself on some 45 minute drafts. Sometimes they just come out whole. Like this one. I like Heidi’s word — poignant.

    Congrats on all the great news!


  7. dmayr

    Gawd, Matt, I hope the old woman didn’t freeze to death! I’m nearly frozen myself and I’m in the house! Keep warm and congratulations on all your good news!


  8. Your news is so exciting, Matt. What a wonderful book baby you have to look forward to!

    Re: your poem, I agree with others— I’m impressed at how this haunting little poem came to you in 45 minutes (gotta love when that happens). It will stay with me for much longer.


  9. Congratulations on your good news, Matt! And I really like your doll poem–it struck me when I first read it on Laura’s site. So mysterious. You leave each reader to determine her fate for themselves. Nice!


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