PAD 2017 – Day 5

So many possibilities for today’s Writer’s Digest prompt to write about an element on the periodic table. The first element I thought of was copper, and it immediately reminded me of my Uncle Leif — a man of small stature and mighty character. I sort of combined that with today’s NaPoWriMo prompt to take inspiration from Mary Oliver, and incorporate some of the world’s natural wonder into your writing. Not sure there’s a lot of Mary in here, but the title is based on her poem “The Uses of Sorrow.”

The Uses of Copper


Arrive at the farm in autumn

when the amber sun sets early

over aurous fields, and stories

fall from his chapped lips

like water from a rusty pump.

You’ll know him by his dusty ball cap,

wind worn skin, and the copper wire,

welded crooked, ever round his wrist.

He’ll swear it shoos the arthritis away,

helps the blood flow, wards off colds.

He’ll show you the verdigris on the wire,

how it’s leached green onto his skin.

Elemental magic that shields him through

frigid winters, keeps him growing, going

like the rolling prairie grass.


Today’s Alberta poet is Edmonton’s Julie C. Robinson. With family and prairie roots on my brain, I thought of her beautiful poem Family Tree.


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