Friday, March 01, 2019

Mask Poems with My Poetry Sisters

Where did February go?! For March, Laura challenged us to write a mask poem from the point of view of any everyday object (toothbrush, pencil, car keys, etc.). You can learn more about this form and read some great examples at Wild Rose Reader.

I took my class to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts on Tuesday to learn about how to use the museum and its resources to teach social studies. We took a trip through the Ancient World galleries and spent time engaging with 3 different works. I was quite taken with a camel sculpture created for the tomb of a Chinese merchant. As the class completed a notice and wonder activity, I started wondering what the camel might be thinking, and what it would say if it could hear our conversation.

This isn't my finest poem, but it is a first draft that made its way out of my head and onto paper, and that is always a very good thing.

What a 7th Century Camel Knows
Few make it to this room in the gallery
tucked into a corner on the second floor
the mummies and marble statues of
the gods draw them in and captivate

If they make it this far, I see only their backs
hear them as they ooh and aah
over "Bowl with Bats, Waves, and Rocks"
a tiny slip not even 200 years old
I've got a thousand years on that bit
of porcelain, but they barely notice me

"They had camels in China?"
the visitors all say
If I could snort I would, but my breath
would surely fog the glass
Just once I'd like to stretch my legs
move a muscle, turn my head

I wish they could see my natural form
but both my beautiful humps are
obscured by heavy packs of goods
the saddle piled high
Silk Road still calling my name

And so I wait
for the one who will SEE me
take more than 7 seconds to glance my way
the one who will stare and study and imagine
their way into my head, into my dreams
into my story, my history

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2019. All rights reserved.
Bactrian Camel (Unknown Artist)7th Century Chinese
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

You can read the pieces written by my Poetry Sisters at the links below. Andi and Kelly are off this month, but we look forward to welcoming them back soon. Today we're thrilled to welcome a new member to the fold. You just might recognize her last name. Welcome Rebecca!
I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Linda Baie at Teacher Dance. Happy poetry Friday friends!


  1. "I've got a thousand years on that bit
    of porcelain" . HAHHAHA! Love the humor and the emotion in this poem. You may have written it just under the wire, Tricia, but it shines. And when I go to the museum (I will, soon!) I'm definitely giving this camel more than seven seconds of my time.

  2. "I've got a thousand years on that bit
    of porcelain, but they barely notice me" Fantastic! The voice of this camel, a bit snarky, but also intelligent and heartfelt, is lovely! What a great draft, Tricia! I love, too, the physical details you've worked in--the glass that would fog, the bags hiding the humps, etc.

  3. Oh, I wish the camel could turn its head to. I've only seen an illustration of that, never in person, but I am rather fond of that Camel. The other day on Twitter, a bunch of museums decided to share images from sheep, I think? And then somehow, the Camel got included buy some Witt. And I, too, just thought that it was the most exquisite thing. So there, piece of porcelain!

  4. I'm sure you have the line this dear camel hears all too often, ""They had camels in China?"/the visitors all say". However, its wait is over, finally found someone "who will stare and study and imagine" - you! Perhaps you should return to read the poem aloud and make its day! I love hearing what you're doing with your students, too, Tricia. How great that is!

  5. You did right by that camel! And you got US to slow down and notice, too!

  6. I love the voice of rightful indignation in your poem. Good for you for paying attention--you made us all notice the negelected camel!