Always a writer

I got a big, thick letter in the mail a while ago and the handwriting on the envelope was sooo familiar. When I looked at the return address, I saw it was from my 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Enright. It took me right back to that little classroom in the old Rapidan School, the dusty smell of the chalkboards, the creak of the wooden floors, her voice, her laughter. I remember how much I learned from her, how wonderful she was with words, words, words.

 Teacher handwriting. 

In her letter, she told me that she was cleaning out some things and had found a bunch of old poems I had written while I was her student. She thought I would like to have them back. Reading them was a riot. I laughed so hard at my poems and at my great rhymes ("Fly, Eagle, Fly! Through the sky! Looking around with a watchful eye!" is just one stellar example). And then I felt such tenderness for my 5th grade self, my budding writing skills, how hard I tried to create art and a meaningful world for myself out there in that tiny town in the middle of the bean field.

 There were a lot of poems.
Writing was my solace.

My parents encouraged every single word I wrote, often "commissioning" me to write poems for birthday cards, thank you notes and anything else they thought would be...ahem...enlightened by my writing. They even helped me enter a contest where the winner got their writing and illustrations published in book form. That was, alas, my very first rejection letter. I was 11 years old.

However, from this batch of poems did come my very first publication. Mrs. Enright had asked me to write a Halloween poem for our class party. Then, proud and sneaky teacher that she was, she sent it to the Mankato Free Press and they published it. I vaguely remembered my great Aunt Margaret sending me a clipping of that poem, so I spent an hour digging through my closet for my old grade school scrapbook - and there it was, right next to our class newspaper, "The Tales of the 5th Grade Nothings" (ha!)...

...and here it is, in all its glory. Oh, my.

Just in case you can't read type that small, I'll gift you with this reprint. Ready?

On Halloween night
The shadows fight,
And Spiders cling to the wall.
In all the rooms
The people are doomed,
And ghosts pace the hall.
In forests deep
All witches creep,
Planning spells so mean.
And from nowhere around
Comes a roaring sound,
"Tonight is Halloween!"

© Amy Kortuem 1979


  1. Susan P.7/16/2011

    Really cute poem! We love Halloween around here, and have many, MANY Halloween books for children that we still read, although our boys are 19 and 15. Your poem would fit right in! Have you read "John Pig's Halloween"?

  2. Amy,
    Loved your comment on My French Country Home about Nourishing Ourselves with what is rather than what is not. I am a newly retired teacher...retired due to the fact that I suffered a SAH and physically just could not do what needed to be done anymore. I was a history teacher and it is a bit disconcerting when you could remember things that happened in 1200 in France, England and Germany and now there are days that you can't remember your husband's cell number. Long story short....I am blessed to be alive and have been trying to put my "motto" for life now into words. You hit the nail on the head. I'll be back to read your posts and check your your music. Just wanted you to know that the words you chose to write on someone's blog today...were an encouragement. Thanks!