“…in India, candle wax was made by boiling the fruit of the cinnamon tree.”
— National Candle Association  

How long must you simmer
the purple-black fruit
of the Ceylon cinnamon tree—

before it yields      handheld light?


This poem, by Bethany Rohde, was shared through T.S. Poetry Press’ Every Day Poems. Photo by Bethany Rohde


First Grade


First Grade

Nudged awake,
in the still-dark morning,
by the sound of her shower’s rainfall—

I’d drag my aqua comforter to the toast-colored carpet
outside Mom’s bathroom. I’d drop the heap
and loll in the folds,
watching mist rise
from the slit of light beneath the door.

Before the tap of words was opened,
I’d ease into the school day,
inhaling her drugstore citrus,
and listening to the downpour
break on her first.


Poem, by Bethany Rohde, first published on Mothers Always Write. Photo by Michelle Rinaldi Ortega. Please do not use without permission.

The Mirth Goes On


The Mirth Goes On

How do you feel about scheduling daily fun? This month I accepted Ann Kroeker‘s invitation to join The Play Project. After the holidays, I looked forward to a little decompression time each chilly, January day. And perhaps it would free up my mind to write more. The list-writing genre gives me a particular thrill, so brainstorming my menu of frivolities was as enjoyable as doing one of them. Really.


Most of the things I’ve played have taken less than five minutes. I don’t want to become stressed by my “commitment to play.” If I miss a day, I let that balloon go and enjoy watching its red, round belly get swallowed up in the cloud cover.

Some of the fun I’ve had so far:

  • Taught my daughter how to do the Roger Rabbit.
  • Looked up the old ice cream parlor from my childhood to see if they still make chocolate ice cream sodas. Yes, they do. (Planned to make one on another day.)
  • Scheduled a coffee break/video game time with my brother.
  • Read a little farther in a Madeline L’Engle series.
  • Watched a football game and tweeted a question to my local sports radio station.
  • Made some curtain tie-backs out of a piece of silver Christmas ribbon.
  • Listened to my favorite songs from middle school while I typed this.

One playdate creation that’s taken a bit more time, is this poster for my mom. After all the doors had been creased open on her December advent calendar, I wanted her to have something tangible to look forward to each day in January.

It’s been years, since I worked on a craft this size. The squares aren’t exactly even, but under each little paper is a childhood memory, a quote from a favorite book, or a joke. After she reads her daily snippet, she can store it in the envelope.


I want to invite anyone reading this to join our band of merriment and play. It’s not too late, and of course you can do this for longer than a month, or just for a day. No pressure in your play. If you want to let me know you’re game, or if  you want to show us your fun on Twitter, the hashtag is #ThePlayProject, or just leave a comment below.

What would you enjoy playing today?


Over the Weathered Fence


Orange-lit cloud—
glowing center,
dissolving edges

Poetry and image by Bethany Rohde. 


Is That Your Body Blocking the Light?


Is That Your Body Blocking the Light?

Across this lawn,

blacktop of shadow
cast between us.

Darkness you did not intend.

How can you, Oak Tree of seventy,
be obscurity and beacon, both?

Through leaves,
I hear whispers growing fainter,
Sh- sh- sh, until we share

each other’s air


This poem was previously featured in T.S. Poetry Press’ Every Day Poems. Photo and poem by Bethany Rohde. Do not use without permission.


Assisted Living

Grandma's Boat Clear

Assisted Living

I remember last spring, one particular visit with my 87 year-old grandma. Although she was a skilled watercolorist, her hands were no longer able to control the brush handles the way she liked. But she was still creating.

After she discovered I was a student of poetry and working on my writing, she said: “Bethany, I didn’t know you wrote poetry. Well, why shouldn’t you? I didn’t take my first painting lesson until I was 70.”

Now, I walk down my shadowed hall, and see the painting I inherited: Thrashing, steely-teal waves match a foreboding sky. On top of them a little, black ship’s tilting its chin upward. I squint to make out the lettering across its starboard side:
“Morning Star.”

And I pick up my pen.

This was written in response to the writing prompt on Literary Mama, called “Writing Prompt, Words that Stick,” written by Dina Relles. Painting by Lucille “Lucy” Schneider from June 4, 2003


What’s Buried and What’s Not


What’s Buried and What’s Not

I’m balancing on the curvature
of roots mossed over in unreal green.

They carry a familiar bone structure:
these rough-skinned, working hands

That even now nourish tree flesh
in the bluing dark of Monday.

I trace one root, it skims grass-shallows
and delves below my sight
to extract its choice elixir:

It sips chilled rain from saturated earth,
leaving mineral tang on the forest’s breath.

Even what goes underground can sift,
can lift, can weave the elements–

into next spring’s leaf-fabric.

Poetry and photo by Bethany Rohde


Why Am I Starting to Smile?



Why Am I Starting to Smile?

Remember that time
after raspberry pancakes
when Mom declared
in our olive-green kitchen: Today,
I’ll teach you to swing.

She smiled as she hollered:
Just gotta lean
into it.

My butterfly rain boots
wriggled through air
and went nowhere
on that tired, steel swing set.

Ever the teacher
she hoisted her own
thick hips
into a black smile
next to me.

Mom pumped sky
in her stone washed jeans

Her grown-up body
heaved all the way back
whipping her mess
of brown hair above

then below
that top bar of rust,
when her seat suddenly

She gripped the old chains-–
stuck the landing.

Remember our laugh?
That sudden air gush,
lung-crush of hilarity
that roared from our cheeks–-while
everyone else held their


* * *

Although I wrote this poem from my daughter’s perspective, I was actually the mom who did this in real life. My kids still enjoy bringing this memory up to strangers at various playgrounds. I’ve decided to join them in their laughter and create further fun with it. Thank you,, for the fabulous poetry prompt.

If you’d like to do a little more mommish reading, I recently found a fresh garden of well-written Mom Stories over at  Its editor, Laura Brown, has tucked these pieces into category-pockets like: “Poetry Moms,” “Funny Moms,” “Meditative Moms” and “Caregiver Moms.” If you’re looking for Mom Books they have a page for you too. Enjoy.

Poetry and photo by Bethany Rohde. Please do not use without permission.