The Marin Poetry Society offers a Writer’s Retreat for shelter-in-place.  I haven’t participated but occasionally dip in.

Today I come to this from Prartho Sereno at:

It’s Day 13: With a Child’s Heart and Soul.

The poem was written by Paul Fentress while in 1st grade at Brookside School in San Anselmo.

Here is the poem:

A Dark Sea of Magic

by Paul Fentress

A dark sea of magic

Five rocks fall off songs

One wise old man in a  lighthouse

A sparkly fish in the air

Here is the story by Prartho Sereno that inspired Paul to write the poem.


In my 21+ years as a poet-in-the-schools, this poem represents one of the highest (among thousands) of moments that have moved me, for this was the poem Paul wrote during a Mothers Day workshop, just a few months after his mother had died.

As we sat criss-cross-applesauce style on the carpet and I announced that we would write about our mothers that day, the students informed me that Paul didn’t have one. It is difficult to describe what I saw and felt as my eyes met Paul’s and his fellow classmates’—I felt like I had been admitted to a circle of wise elders. Their eyes were steady and clear with what felt like true compassion, without embarrassment or sentimentality. We sat quietly together with the fact of loss—its solemnity and its power to bring us together.

When it was time to write, I suggested Paul might write his poem to his father. But he shook his head no. Later, I suggested he could write to his mother, but again he said no.

Awkwardly, I went on to write what I’d prepared on the board: Compare your mother’s hair to a vegetable. What are her hands made of (e.g., water or fire or feathers)? What do you see her doing in your mind? Crown her the Queen of something.…

I noticed Paul moving his pencil, deep into the process, and left him alone for a while. When I finally came round to his desk and read the poem I’m offering here, I was speechless before its mystery and beauty.

Eventually, I asked, “Who did you write this for, Paul?… Is this for your mother?”

He shook his head no.

“Your father?”

Again, no. Then he looked right into me and said, “This poem is for me. I wrote this poem for me.”

You can check out more here:

2 thoughts on “Touching the Heart – Poetry

    1. Yes!! I felt the same way, heart-touched and amazed that a young child would know and see what’s so clear.

      I keep thinking about his poem and how it must support him right now, and in that, I feel the support too. Yes!


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