by Carol Johnson Collins

        You know how it goes, if you’re of my generation, when we were young and had boundless energy and excitement about our young family we put all our family photos in albums.  Then life got busier and you haven’t lost your love of photos, so the photos pile up and the years pass and more photos pile up and get put into boxes in “The Album Corner”.  It’s as if I expected a ‘Good Fairy’ would put all those photos into albums for me, while I sleep.  It didn’t happen!  The boxes got very dusty, and almost 40 years passed. 

        A couple of months ago I was looking for a particular photo.  Can you believe, I found it!  Also, tucked in between some old photos was a tiny book that I didn’t remember making. The photos had kept it dust-free.  I looked at it;  it was my handwriting and my pressed-flower arrangements and my words, my poems.  I made it in 1982 in connection with my volunteering at The Duxbury Elementary School when I worked with the students in creative writing and book-making.

        I didn’t read it, because I had more photos to find, and more of the boxes to clean.  I put it in front of my husband, because I was excited to find it.  A few minutes later my husband said “It’s good.”  “What?” I thought to myself, I can’t believe it, he said “It’s good.”  He never says anything is good.  “Okay” is about the best I ever hear from him, even when I have worked extra hard to make a meal that I think he’ll really LOVE, he just gives me the “Okay.”, so I found a soft chair, faced the sunshine coming in our windows and read the tiny book which is called “The Giving Book”.

        I couldn’t believe it.  I felt as if I could have written the poems today.  I felt they were true, fresh, honest, and good.  I read the tiny tome again.  This time I decided that I wanted to share these poems with others.  Maybe they would uplift others at this difficult time in our lives.

        I re-wrote one poem that I wasn’t happy with. Then I recopied all the poems on two sheets which now served as ‘masters’. I printed these using my printer and then cut the 8”X 11” pages into the small pages for the tiny book.  For the original “Giving Book” I sewed the pages together on my treadle sewing machine.  Although I still sew on my treadle sewing machine very often, this time I hand-stitched the pages together into a ‘signature’.  Then I used decorative papers to cover cereal-box or any similar weight cardboard, and glued the signature to the center of the decorated cover. 


Whenever I make



The book makes me

a little better

at saying

what I feel

or see.


Smile Giving

I smile

to you.

You smile

to me.

However many times

you give a smile,

it’s always free.

Giving Time

You give me yours,

I give you mine.

We do it again and again,

all the time.

Is there any better

kind of gift,

than Time?


Letter Writing

Whenever I write a letter,

A letter is written to me,

…maybe not by the one

I wrote to,

but from somewhere—

a letter comes to me.


Gift Giving

Whenever I give a present,

a present is given to me—

not by the same one


but always more comes

and comes

and comes

back to me.  



Whenever I meet a friend…

the friend meets me.

We take each other








Giving Book 02

        I sent two to friends in Venice, Florida who are going through extraordinarily difficult times.  I sent one to my friend in Loma Linda, California, I sent one way up the coast of Maine in a little town called Friendship. Some of the “Giving Books” are in Waterbury, So. Duxbury, Swanton, W. Brattleboro, and Winooski, Vermont.  When I hear about someone who is struggling or needing a lift, I make them one of the tiny books.  I plan to keep making and sending them. It helps me because I feel in a tiny way my poems are helping people. 

April 20th, 2020