Only a Pencil Will Do

The teacher handed me
the big, fat, round pencil
because only
a pencil will do.
My hand, small, awkward,
felt overwhelmed.
What will I do with this?
What magic will ooze
on the page of the
Big Chief?

Years pass by and
still, the pencil, only
the pencil will do
for writing rhymes and meters,
syllables counted to perfection,
words spaced precisely
in my notebook.

Words captured,
lovingly placed
on the page where

only a pencil will do.

. . .

You will find poetry nowhere unless you bring
some of it with you.
—Joseph Joubert

Poet and teacher, Samantha Lazar, offered some gem mining in April for National Poetry Month. She is using the month to study poets and traces their words as prompts for her own writing. 

Following Samantha’s lead, I picked up Everything Comes Next by Naomi Shihab Nye. My copy of the book riddled with highlights and sticky tags opened randomly to one of my favorite poems, “Always Bring a Pencil.” 

But there will be certain things—
the quiet flush of waves,
ripe scent of fish,
smooth ripple of the wind’s second wave—
that prefer to be written about
in pencil.

How did I not see it before? I do not, I cannot conceive of writing poetry on a computer, tablet, phone, or even with an ink pen. My notebooks give evidence of pages written in pencil, scratched, erased, and doodled. Every line waits to come alive because—

only a pencil will do.

And still, I will never let go.

pink red buds blossom on a single branch with blue sky and limbs in the background. Text: Poetry centers the heart. by Kathryn LeRoy

. . .

And always—

Be kind. Be brave. Be you.

You can find me on Instagram, Bluesky, Facebook, and LinkedIn

Photo:  My Pencils © Kathryn LeRoy