Poetry Friday: “Stumpfield Pond, 1975”

Last 5th Grade coverI mentioned last week that poet and blogger Laura Shovan is celebrating the release of her debut middle grade novel-in-verse, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary (Wendy Lamb Books), which was just released a couple of weeks ago. I did NOT mention how excited I am to be a part of her celebration!

I just received my ARC (Advance Review Copy) of the book yesterday and am looking forward to reading it and providing a review here in the next couple weeks…but that’s not all Laura had in store for those of us taking part in her “ARC Blog Tour.”

Laura also included vintage postcards to each blogger who received the book, to provide some writing inspiration – and inspiration is exactly what hit me last night, as I was looking through the postcards. I came across one in particular that immediately reminded me of my early-morning fishing excursions with my father when I was a child:

(click to enlarge)

Growing up here in New Hampshire, a great fishing spot was never more than 10 or 15 minutes away, so dad & I would get up early, early on a Saturday morning and make our way to a number of different places; this is one of them.

Stumpfield Pond, 1975

His son at his side, Dad slips
the old pea-green fiberglass boat into mirror water,
skillfully slicing the sleeping surface;
ripples race from either side of the bow,
curling and folding upon themselves.
Sand-worn hull grinds on gravel
like thunder in sunshine, unexpected
and startling,
before it finds its buoyancy
10 feet out from shore.
Titmouse, thrush, persistent phoebe sing
from treetops;
the air smells of lilies and dew,
wild iris and fog.
I clamber into the boat first, staking
claim to my usual post
near the bow, small hands
holding gently-rocking sides.
Dad climbs in once I am seated, and grabbing
one wooden oar, pushes hard
against the sand and silt beneath,
heaving the weight of the boat
and himself
and me
into the cool, wet, morning.

– © 2016 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

poetryfridaybutton-fulllBe sure to watch for my review of Laura’s book in the next few weeks, and for all of today’s Poetry Friday fun, please visit Violet Nesdoly’s blog for the complete roundup!


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22 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: “Stumpfield Pond, 1975”

  1. I received a lovely postcard, too, Matt. Wonderful memory that came from yours, especially nice that it’s about you and your dad. I’ve pulled boats before, and love “like thunder in sunshine”, just right! Enjoy Laura’s book!


  2. Laura Shovan

    The smells in this poem were so detailed and captivating. I love the way a visual prompt can appeal to other senses than sight.


  3. margaretsmn

    The detailed images made me feel as if I was there with you. My husband and I canoe on occasion and he holds the boat while I get in, always a tricky maneuver.


  4. This makes me feel like I’m right there. I especially love the very specific and familiar (from camp)

    “Sand-worn hull grinds on gravel
    like thunder in sunshine, unexpected
    and startling,”

    I can almost hear the counselors talking about the canoes–only biscuit mix (because in the old days they mixed and formed their biscuits right on the canoe hulls?) and water should touch the hull! Never drag them across the sand! Thanks for the poem AND the memories!


  5. Matt, this is wonderful–A perfect example of how writing/poetry can zoom in on one small moment and bring it to life. Great alliteration and word choice and such wonderful atmosphere! Thanks for sharing that lovely moment on the lake.


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