When The First Line Is The Best Line

loon-387347_1920As the loon’s cry echoes through the still and silent water..

That is the first line of a poem I wrote for an assignment in grade six. For over thirty years, I’ve remembered only that one line. I got a great mark and my teacher had wonderful things to say about my work.

My teacher was always supportive of my love of writing. I would give him goofy poems and little stories to read. He always took the time to chat with me about them and encourage me. On my last day of elementary school, two years after he had taught me, he stopped me in the hall to wish me well in high school.  As I walked away he told me to make sure I continued to write.

One of my most beloved teachers.

My mom was decluttering her house recently and gave me a bag full of old school work and other memories. Last night I started to sort through it and was so excited to see my poem tucked in an old notebook.

Over the years, I’ve thought about that poem. Remembering that one line and the accolades, I romanticized my brilliance. Like, really romanticized it.

Later in the poem, those loons started to gossip and leaves frolicked by my feet. Some child fell and I started to hear whispering.

I’ve obviously never understood poetry.

I started to feel like my teacher’s encouragement was misguided but with further scrutiny, maybe he wasn’t misguided but purposely very general — he never once said I should continue working on my poetry. Well played, Mr. Smith. Well played.


Photo credit: https://pixabay.com/en/loon-bird-waterbird-duck-fauna-387347/









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