Monarch Migration (NaPoWriMo Day 30)

Photo by Kathy Servian on Unsplash

It’s hard to believe that today is the last day of NaPoWriMo. The final prompt is to write about something that returns every year. I chose the migration of monarch butterflies, who fly thousands of miles to reach Mexico in the winter and come back North during the spring. Thank you for reading! I’ll be back again for next year’s NaPoWriMo challenge.

In winter, I look skyward, feeling the

absence of the butterflies who would

stop to rest on my rose bushes and

paint the world with color.

When the monarchs leave for Mexico

each year, I go into a kind of hibernation,

brushing the snow from the evergreen trees

and curling deeper into my own silence.

As the snow melts and the flowers bloom,

I stand in the garden and wait for the whir

of wings to fill the air. Monarch butterflies

come back dusted with gold, and the sight

of them loosens the song in my heart.

©Jamie Brian and

My Grandmother’s Bedroom (NaPoWriMo Day 28)

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is to describe a bedroom from our past in a poem.

I spent many afternoons in my grandmother’s bedroom,

watching black and white reruns on her TV while she

crocheted scarves in the living room. When I think of her now,

I remember the aroma of vanilla from her perfume mixed

with geraniums and the musk after rain. She crocheted doilies

in intricate patterns and placed them under every lamp.

I remember tracing my fingers over the swirling and overlapping

shapes, noting how no two doilies were the same, like

snowflakes. On her nightstand she kept a picture of her husband

and dusted the glass every day even though he had been

dead for twenty years. She made rosaries with blue and red

and pearl-hued beads and displayed them on tiny hooks

on her dresser. She turned her pain into action with her hands,

always making something new. The beads were prayers

between her fingers, whispered softly as she joined them

with string.

©Jamie Brian and

Fear (NaPoWriMo Day 23)

Photo by Melanie Wasser on Unsplash

The NaPoWriMo prompt of the day is to write about a letter of the alphabet or the letters that form a short word. I chose the word “fear.”

F closes its eyes as the plane lifts off, the city shrinking into pixels

E rows faster in the water as lightning rips through the silk of the sky

A walks through the empty house, whispers sending shivers down his spine

R hears the snake’s rattle rustling through the sand, closer with every step

©Jamie Brian and

You Carry the Sun on Your Back (NaPoWriMo Day 22)

Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is to use an idiom from another culture as inspiration for writing a poem. I chose an idiom from the Kazakh translator Askhat Yerkimbay: Сенің арқаңда күн көріп жүрмін, or “I see the sun on your back.”

This idiom means “Thanks for being you. I am alive because of your help.”

You carry the sun on your back.

Even on the darkest of nights,

you set the room awash with light.

In the bitter winds of winter,

we warm our hands by your fire.

When hope leaves us empty-handed,

we look to your glow to remember

the passion burning in our hearts.

The greatest tragedy of all is that

you have helped us in so many ways,

yet you will never see your own light.

We will show you: you are glorious.

You are backlit in amber, rising

above the fog.

©Jamie Brian and

Emily’s Mixtape (NaPoWriMoDay 20)

Photo by A. L. on Unsplash

The NaPoWriMo prompt of the day is to write about a homemade gift a friend or family member has given us. I wrote about a CD my friend made for me of our favorite songs.

I found the CD you burned for me

when we were high school sophomores

and our language was that of songs

shuffled and shared in hallways,

sitting cross-legged beside each other

humming along before the bell rang.

We were in that in-between phase of life

when every feeling and experience was

magnified, and we were at the eye

of a burgeoning, churning hurricane.

The bands we loved had a song for

every demon we were fighting, and they

told us It will be okay; I have been where

you are, and I lived to write this.

Years later, we live in different cities

in different time zones, but whenever

I listen to your mixtape on my ride home,

I am transported to a time when we drove

to the lake with the windows down,

singing as loudly as we could and

dreaming of the people we would


©Jamie Brian and

Silver Pendant and the Seashore (NaPoWriMo Day 19)

Photo by Mo on Unsplash

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a walking archive, a poem written about objects collected on a walk. I couldn’t get outside to walk today, so I wrote a poem inspired by a necklace I found in my jewelry box. It was purchased on a family vacation to Bermuda, when we visited a beach of pink sand. I remember the joy and awe of walking on that beach.

The silver pendant filled with pink

grains of sand rests serenely on its

jewelry hook, swaying at the memory

of warm ocean breezes and blue skies.

I hold it in my palm, and I remember

the day when I bought it, a sweet

chapter of another year when I walked

along the beach and let the undulating

waves lap at my toes, the wind at my back.

To imagine this kind of freedom seems

as distant as a fairytale told in a dream.

Still, it gives me hope, to have something

so beautiful in my hand. It is a time capsule

of a lovely, impossible day, but there will

be more days like this. I hold on to my belief

in lovely, impossible things like a kite

being let out on a string, drifting higher

and higher in the cerulean sky.

©Jamie Brian and