The Monday Poems Embrace the Purification of Gold and Friendship.

Not that many years ago, I hung out with a group of friends in a restaurant. Someone brought up a topic that set off one of the worst, heated debates that threatened to tear us all apart. Two of my friends were on the verge of walking away and never looking back. Every group of friends seems to come with one neutral individual who refuses to take a side, remains quiet, and listens. James was that friend. He interrupted the tense moment to ask us a question.

“Does anyone know how gold is purified?”

The question had nothing to do with what we were arguing over. James had, no doubt, learned this random piece of information, found it fascinating, never knew what to do with it once he had it, but needed to unload it.

We were the chosen ones.

“Gold,” he began, “is filled with impurities. To make it pure, it must enter into a complex process.” His visible passion for this topic held our interest.

What followed sounded like an essay he might have written in college. He listed places around the world where gold is mined, what it looks like in its raw state, and, most importantly, how a refinery removes impurities to transform the raw gold into pure and beautiful metal. What none of us realized was that his topic fit our situation as flawlessly as that purified gold.

Here’s a brief explanation of the purification process he shared with us.

  1. Gold is melted in a furnace.
  2. Chlorine is bubbled through the liquid.
  3. The chlorine attaches to impurities in the gold.
  4. The impurities move toward the top.
  5. Next, they are skimmed off,
  6. Leaving the gold more pure.

“Cool,” someone said, “but what does that have to do with our debate.”

“EVERYTHING,” James replied.

“The purification of gold isn’t different from the journey of a friendship,” he said. “In the beginning, while we’re getting to know each other, we come up against complications that heat us like the first step taken to purify the gold.

We bring our issues into the open, much like the impurities rising to the surface of heated gold. Here, problems must be dealt with. Once we have resolved those problems, we can skim them out, making our friendship more pure and beautiful and more valuable. Work through this moment,” he said. “because friendship is always worth it.” James walked out and left us to finish our debate.

That evening four friends grew closer to each other because of their renewed understanding.

Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

THE ALCHEMY OF FRIENDSHIP

So it begins
with questions and interests,
common ground,
and new ground.
Smooth and perfect,
the path before the friends
meanders around bends,
runs straight, and then
takes a turn.
Without warning,
an object lies in the path
between them,
daring to be touched,
easier to avoid.
One by one,
complications ignite,
and the fire consumes the impurities–
burns them to ashes
they sweep away.
What remains is a friendship that
holds stronger,
and shines
bright and true.

by

Leslie Leibhardt Goodman

Inclusion Meets Perfect Picture Book Friday

I waited on the bleachers, wedged between a competitive jock, an energetic cheerleader, and other eager students to play volleyball. The gym teacher called up two students to be team leaders.

“Take turns,” he said, “calling out the names of the classmates you want on your team.” Without saying these exact words, the basic translation goes something like this… Choose the most popular kids first, and work your way down through the least desirable ones. By the way, this statement isn’t open for debate; it’s a sad fact.

I watched as classmate after classmate dashed down bleachers to stand with their team leader. Soon, I had ample space around me. Space enough to stretch my legs and arms, flail them if I was in the mood, and not touch anyone because I was the only student left, and both teams had a matched number of players. Go ahead and dab at your eyes with the nearest tissue or your sleeve. I’ll wait.

At this point, everyone turned toward the bleachers. Their eyes bored into me as if I were a strange ingredient that would destroy their perfect recipe. Does anyone out there know what it’s like to hear, “We don’t want Leslie on our team!” or “Well, neither do we!” Anyone???

[Okay, straight off, I duck when a ball flies at my head. It’s instinctive. I don’t fight the impulse or make apologies for it. I know I do this, and everyone in my class knew this about me, too.]

The gym teacher, confident I wasn’t the make-it-or-break-it player to help either team win or lose, assigned me to one of the teams. I walked past the cheering group and over to the bunch that couldn’t contain their groans.

As you might have guessed, I ducked when the ball flew at me or sidestepped it every chance I got. In the last minute of the game, when both teams were tied, the opposing team went in for the kill. One of the big guys hefted the ball straight for my head, accompanied by a derogatory remark. I got mad, raised my hands together in a hard fist, and BAM! I scored the point that changed how everyone looked at me.

A bunch of my teammates started swearing in that good way that meant they couldn’t believe what just happened. The teacher shook his head in disbelief. “I didn’t think you had it in you,” he said, writing an A after my name in his grade book.

The takeaway from this story is that the small and meek can make a difference when given a chance (or when angered), which leads me to my second autumn-perfect picture book review of The Littlest Pumpkin.

Title – The Littlest Pumpkin

Written by  –  R.A. Herman

Illustrated by  – Betina Ogden

Published  – Scholastic – 2001

Suitable for ages – 4 to 8.

Topics – Dreams and inclusion

Opening – It was Halloween, and there were 18 pumpkins left at Bartlett’s Farm Stand. The pumpkins looked their very best, because they all wanted to be taken home and made into jolly jack-o’-lanterns.

The Littlest Pumpkin had the biggest dreams of all. She saw herself shining in the dark, with ghosts, monsters, witches, and fairies gathered around her singing a Halloween song. And today was the day when all her dreams were going to come true.

Amazon Review HERE – When Bartlett’s Farm Stand closes for the season, the Littlest Pumpkin, who longs to make someone happy for Halloween, is devastated to be the only pumpkin left, but when a group of mice come along, they make the Littlest Pumpkin the happiest pumpkin in the world!

Why do I like this book? How could I read this book and not connect with the Littlest Pumpkin? Her dreams were just as big and valid as the dreams of the other 17 pumpkins gathered together at Bartlett’s Farm Stand. And despite her wish to be chosen by a child that Halloween, she was passed over again and again until… The heart-hugging ending which I won’t give away. This story offers hope, and proof that dreams can come true.

Learn more about R.A. Herman HERE.

Learn more about Betina Ogden HERE.

I invite you to visit me next week for The Monday Poems.

Leslie

The Monday Poems Embrace Hope.

Last Monday, my poem took on the sweet smells and tastes of the season with apples and spice and everything nice. Today, instead of writing a poem about something tangible or tasty, I’ve taken on something that lives only in the heart and mind–something unthinkable to lose, but when this is yours, you’ll hold it, knowing you have something precious. Welcome to hope.

HOPE

Hope blooms like petals, unfurling in spring.
Hope enters gently from
an act of kindness.
Hope finds its birth in a wish upon a star.
Hope appears in the words
of a promise.
Hope finds its way
on a fresh path.
Hope grows from,
“I love you.”
Hope begins with
a first step.
Hope finds comfort
in a hug.
Hope heals after
“I’m sorry.”
Hope listens
harder.
Hope
waits.

by
Leslie Leibhardt Goodman

I’ll see you here next Friday for another Autumn-perfect picture book review.

Leslie

Bonus Post! My Story Entry for the Fall Writing Frenzy.

My heart beats a little quicker at the words ‘writing contest.’ Forget the laundry and the dishes, I have a new story to write! This time, the contest is the Fall Writing Frenzy. The rules are simple: Pick one of the Fall images provided (from those in the link above) and write about it through a poem, a story, a mood piece, or whatever comes to mind. Happy, scary, beautiful, grotesque, whatever suits your fancy for any kidlit age: board book through young adult. The word limit, minus the title, must be no more than 200. My story comes in at 197 words.

I scrolled through the images but kept returning to the photograph of the solitary witch in the wilderness. I wondered why she was alone. Did she prefer life this way, or did she hold a special wish in her heart? And what was she brewing in her cauldron? A spell? Wart remover? Dinner?

I decided that the one thing my little witch craved most of all was the very thing you and I crave, too.

I hope my Halloween story fills your heart with a case of the warm, fuzzies.

Image 12, courtesy of Unsplash

THE FRIENDSHIP BREW

Eleanor dropped a clock into her potion.

“What spell are you brewing?” asked her sister, Naomi.

“I’m making a friend who has time to play.”

“I’ll help you,” Naomi promised, “even if it takes all day.”

Eleanor added a pinch of insect wings. “I also want someone to share

secrets with.”

“Sounds perfect! I promise I won’t tell anyone.”

Eleanor handed Naomi the spoon. 

“What else do you want your friend to be?” Naomi asked.

“Someone who’ll listen when I’m happy or sad,” Eleanor replied.

Naomi offered her seashell, shaped like an ear. “Anything else?”

“Someone who cares.”

Naomi opened a pouch and dropped in a heart-shaped stone.

“Come out, come out!” Eleanor called into the potion. When no friend

appeared, she kicked her cauldron. “I knew I couldn’t make a friend.”

Eleanor wandered through the woods with Naomi for hours. They traded

favorite spells, gathered fresh ingredients, and nibbled buttered, beetle

toast.

“Thanks for helping me,” Eleanor said.

Naomi offered a hug. “It’s what sisters do.”

That evening, Eleanor filled up her cauldron again.

“What spell are you brewing this time?” Naomi asked.

“No spell.” Eleanor held out a bowl. “I made dinner for my friend.”

by

Leslie Leibhardt Goodman

May you know the inexplicable joy of a truly perfect friendship.

I’ll see you back here for The Monday Poems!

Leslie