My day started with a small group of colleagues gathered around a table sipping coffee and discussing a chapter from a book we are reading together.  The topic of this particular chapter was about asking complex questions of our students.  I spent the rest of the day being very conscious of my questions, trying to make them the kind that can’t be answered with one or two words.

When I sat down to write tonight and thought about what little nugget of this experience I would try to tease out in my writing, these words popped into my head and onto the screen.  The title might seem odd but it is just going to have to stand for now.


I sat by the tree and began poking the ground with a stick
just to pass the time.
Finding a root, I began to drag the stick along its edge,
brushing away the loose dirt with my fingers.
I continued  to prod and poke and scoop
exposing the root.

When the sun dipped behind the tree
and the coolness of evening caught up with me,
I paused finally,
cast aside my stick and traced the gnarled knuckles of the root with my fingers.
It was time to go home.


About wakeupandwrite

14 responses to “questions

  • Donna Smith

    Is this how we get to the “root” of the matter? Tracing with a stick, then get closer with our hands? Rubbing away and the extraneous? Then the answer is revealed…then we can go on.
    That’s what it says to me.

  • Anne and Narissa

    I think Donna’s response is on the mark. Sometimes it does take a lot of digging to get an answer worth hearing. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your slice.

  • pamelahodges

    Interesting. The repetition of the word root, that you kept coming back to it. In the beginning you were not really doing anything just poking the ground. Then you noticed the root, but you were still detached. Just an old root poking it with a stick.
    And then the root became the “gnarled knuckles of the root”, and you touched it with you hands.
    That line is really what I want my drawing students to see. To notice texture, and to touch their world. And the same way with students writing. To notice details.
    I want to read this poem to my drawing class next week. 🙂

  • Jama

    You painted a clear picture in my mind. I like that it is causing lots of questions in my mind. There is depth and insight, but you have to dig to find it. Very nicely done.

  • margaretsmn

    It is always a process…a process of discovery.

  • Tam

    I like “what little nugget of this experience I would try to tease out in my writing.” It’s wonderful that simple events/thoughts can create an idea so unique it even amazes us after we write about it.

  • elsie

    When I read “. . .thought about what little nugget of this experience I would try to tease out in my writing, these words popped into my head and onto the screen” my mind was eagerly anticipating your poem. I was not disappointed. Funny thing, last night walking around the yard my husband and I commented on the tree roots that had surfaced this year. I felt like you watched us uncovering a root. Odd!

  • Ruth

    gnarled knuckles — now that’s some remarkable wordsmithing. I like the title and the way it angles the poem.

  • macrush53

    What a brief moment all lost within it. I like the title and they way you investigated the root.

  • Linda Baie

    Great to hear that you find the intricacy of questioning. I hope you share this powerful “summary?” of the conversation with your colleagues. Wonderful that you showed how important it was through your poem.

  • Julie Johnson (@Jreaderwriter)

    I was intrigued with the little nugget you could tease out of the experience and eagerly anticipated your writing. The image of gnarled knuckles will stay with me. Beautiful poem!

  • Linda

    Such vivid imagery! I also like “gnarled knuckles…” Well done!

  • mardie

    Love the use of ‘digging’ or ‘uncovering’ the root as metaphor for asking complex questions. The poem is so tactile that I can feel the root beneath my fingertips.

  • Paul

    I love the soundplay here — prod/poke, scoop/root, tree/me/finally (love rhyme that sneaks up!), gnarled knuckles. Rhythmic and poetic! 🙂

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