Thursday, March 9, 2017

9 of 31: Under the Sycamore Tree

Today I had the good fortune of taking my students outside to read for twenty minutes. I sat down on faded wooden bench under a tree in front of our school and watched my students find their own spaces to stretch out and read. It was 71 degrees, and I could not wait to get back to my novel. I opened its pages and soon the mumbled rush of the cars and semi-trailers zooming by on the highway  just above our heads began to fade. Several minutes passed before I realized that I was so engrossed in my reading, I had tuned everything else out completely. Quickly, my eyes darted up and around taking a mental headcount and making sure everyone was reading. They, too, seemed just as captivated by the fresh air and their fictional worlds. It was a magical twenty minutes. Students thanked me for allowing them to read outside, and it was then that I became inspired to write this poem, which was loosely formatted and influenced by Neil Hilborn's poem, "The Sadness Factory." So thank you Neil and thank you mother earth for such an inspiring day!

Under the Sycamore Tree

is where we go to read when the weather
Permits it. Because it provides

the perfect blend of shade and sun, perched on a bench
under the sycamore tree. Let me tell you

about happy 7th graders: they're either propped up
against another trunk or sprawled on the soft, spring grass.

Books in hand, they squint in the bright sunlight. The copper koi
send gentle ripples across the top of the small pond in our

Outdoor Classroom. Contentment is much more easily found
in a fictional world where students groan in protestation

When they have to stop reading and return inside; the air
does not stir nor smell so clean as outside. On a clear spring day.

Under the Sycamore Tree.


  1. I love taking the students outside to read and can't wait until we have that kind of weather here in Wyoming. Your poem is beautifully written. I had to read it a few times because I enjoyed it so much.

  2. I love the use of enjambment in your poem. My favorite line is "let me tell you about happy 7th graders" because it's such an invitation to keep reading!

  3. I love the poem! I think these words have a lovely rhythm, "does not stir nor smell so clean as outside." I know your heart skipped a beat just before that reassuring head count!

  4. I love that you took your class outside and that everyone, including you, was so engrossed in their reading. What a good feeling as a teacher! It sounds like a good 20 minutes.