Friday, September 25, 2020

Poetry Friday: To an Image of a Hippo, or Ponderous, or Both

September's challenge pounced out of nowhere (where did the rest of the month GO?) so maybe that's why I laughed when I read our task: 

"write a poem using ponderous, or an image of a hippo, in whatever form we wish!"

Ok, I had to think quickly, about ponderous things! What to do? How to frame this? Where even to start? 

Well, that's always the question, no matter how much or how little time I have...right? So I leaned on my never-fail poetry approach: research. It's not something we discuss much when teaching poetic technique, as we focus on rhythm, imagery, word choice, and perhaps form, or even rhyme. But poetry must also be rooted before it can grow, and for me, that means digging into the connections my subject makes with the world. This time, that was two-fold:  the word origin of ponderous (and other pond words)...and hippos, of course. 

Research always saves the day. 


If a poet in a pond

were to ponder,

what ponderous

thoughts to weigh?

That “to pond” is to pool water; 

nothing to do with poundage,

still, arising from pound—

a place to hold livestock— so a water

version of that, to hold ducks, say.

Or carp. Or a poet floating

on her back to see what’s up

there, wondering who, in dialect, turned

pound into pond. So she can now write

about ponding, a hazard of low water 

at the dip of a path, or even make jokes

about pond scum, also called frog-spittle,

and joy! brook-silk….and yet, to ponder

is another thing, entirely: to think, to consider,

to weigh carefully. This she must do. 

Not simply float. Perhaps if she contemplates

the hippo. Now her thoughts bolt from her wet

coils of hair. To be a river-horse! To cry 

questions that carry through both water 

and air. To word-gallop as it can,

startling all, the terror of the mangroves, 

mating underwater, birthing crocodile

killers, not a ponderous bone

in its body of work. What then? 

What might pool in her ears? What might 

she say to her pod, her herd, her dale, 

her bloat? What if this pond weren’t 

all the world she knows? 

             ----Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved) 

See what my poetry sisters did with this ponderous challenge here:








Poetry Friday is hosted today by Jone Rush MacCulloch