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One of my writing friends suggested I write blogs featuring my poems and what triggered them. I've decided to start the new year by doing just that.  Today I'm going to share a poem I wrote when my daughter was fourteen. It was triggered by a visit we made to a prison where the former president of her high school senior class was incarcerated. She was adamant in her desire to visit him. Being her mother, I was uncertain about allowing her to go inside an adult prison.


Being a persistent teenager, she eventually broke open my fear and made me realize what she wanted to do was a noble thing. Her caring for this 18-year-old boy was genuine. He'd been one of her brother's best friends--her brother had managed this boy's campaign for senior president. She knew him well. And she wasn't about to abandon him because he'd made a stupid mistake. I knew her compassion was real and right.  So I took her to visit him. 

As we were leaving the prison, walking across the asphalt parking lot, I had the clear, and somewhat painful, realization that she was not a little girl any longer. She was transforming into a woman--taking a giant step that day. My hand did reach out to touch her face.  And I knew, at that very moment, I would write a poem about this day, this transformation, this amazing child/woman who'd been entrusted to my care.  And so I went back in time and recaptured the many ways in which my daughter was destined to "catch the light." 

Catching the Light
                                                                     for Bonnie

At six, my daughter believed stars
could punch holes through the darkness.
For that fleeting second
when each new light stood still
she'd leap to catch it--
hold it briefly in the palms of her hands.


Two years later, the sky starless
and arranging itself for rain,
she held a shoebox coffin
lined with maple leaves,
air holes dotting the lid.


I remember the sound as it hit the earth
and the Siamese kitten shifted its weight--
settled into leaving.
Unwilling to cover it with dirt,
she held the small shovel
like a crutch beneath her arm.


Today, she visits a friend in prison.
"Thank you for bringing her,"
he mouths above an offered hand
she cannot take,
matching it to her own
pressed flat as a moth against the clear plastic wall.


Leaving, she pauses in front of the windows
and I feel her heart lift itself up.
She watches his fingers flutter--
catch her fading light--
through the narrow bars.


Somehow strange to me now,
neither child nor woman, 
my hand reaches out to touch her face.
This slow and painful rise into herself,
pure and fleeting as starlight.




It's a strange and beautiful thing to look back on the lives of my children--the ones I believed were mine to teach--and discover just how much they've taught me.  Not surprisingly, my daughter started her own business, providing mediation, training and counseling services for caregivers and families of patients suffering from dementia and Alzheimers' Disease. She calls it, "Shine Your Light." 
 


Comments

martha miller
01/03/2016 2:35pm

You did it again, Susan. Moved me to tears. You are a writer unlike any other that I know or have been privileged to read. Thank you for sharing your special life moments with us.

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05/24/2016 6:48am

Poetry suits me. Calms me. Soothes me.There's a thread separating poetry, an art of expression of your experiences and actual experiences, which is a sort of knowledge. Knowledge happens the same way. It blossoms and blooms and it encourages to study and learn more about yourself and the world around you. The abstract mind is the same. The numbers assigned in the tests above are actually drawings that make you spot the difference.

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08/04/2016 10:37pm

I like this poem. It captured the essence of being a parent, having your own fears as to what evil things will happen to him/her. The parent slowly realizes that her child must move on and grow. It's a sad yet somewhat nostalgic feeling because the parent will remember the times that she spent with her son/daughter.

09/29/2016 5:03am

Time flies really fast. I've been encountering the same feeling right now with my sisters. I remembered those times when they are still depending on me in doing some stuffs. They want to know my opinions and help whenever they have their assignments. As their elder sister, I would oblige myself to do whatever they ask for help simply because I have to do it. But right now, I was surprised because they are now transforming into a woman, not just an ordinary woman but one who is responsible enough to make decisions and of course one who is able to accept the consequences of their decisions. I am really happy and excited to witness their journey as they are now about to face situations that would definitely make and mold them to become a better person.

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Linda Wilkinson
01/03/2016 2:59pm

Beautiful and thoughtful. I always admire what you write and the depth within your heart to feel so many things. You must be so proud to have raised a daughter so determined to do good.

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Lois Rosen
01/03/2016 3:42pm

Thank you, Susan. What a forthright, compassionate girl shown by her appreciative, supportive mother. It was just the right warm-hearted poem to read on this icy day.

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01/03/2016 4:18pm

Lovely, Susan, how you catch a moment and make it a lifetime.

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Chris
01/04/2016 7:25am

You write with such vulnerability allowing the reader to know you. You have an amazing daughter. We are blessed to be a blessing!

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Andy
01/04/2016 11:56am

As usual you really put your feelings out there for all to see. Welll done.
It really touched me.

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susan domingos
01/04/2016 4:24pm

Very touching. Thank you.
Susan D.

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Barry
01/05/2016 6:12am

A truly moving recap of familial love and the subtle power of more than one outstreched hand as the "reacher" becomes the "reached" does not escape the reader. Bonnie has always shared your empathetic gifts and zen-like character. We could see that as your children played with our children. As Leonard Cohen said (Anthem) "Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in."

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01/05/2016 9:03am

What an incredibly special relationship you have with your daughter. Once more, you have brought tears to my eyes.

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Kathy
01/06/2016 3:46am

Love this, both the story and the beautiful poem.

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Bob
01/12/2016 1:47pm

What an amazing poem based on a great concept - the stories behind your poems. As a former high school teacher and a parent, I found this blog and poem very moving. The decision to take her on the visit is something a very loving parent would do.

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Jackie
01/15/2016 5:50pm

Lovely poem about your daughter. Beautiful images and expressed feelings. Keep on writing!

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Linda Wilkinson
02/06/2016 12:30pm

Most of us take our feelings and hide them or our memories and carefully find a secret spot in our hearts and only visit them ourselves. When you open up your heart and share what even I didn't know when you were young - I admire it sooo much... No one in our family has the words to express theirselves better than you my loving beautiful cousin. - I love you soooooo much.

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Martha R
03/29/2016 12:05pm

I love the idea of writing about the genesis of your poetry this year! What an extraordinary experience you capture here. It moves me deeply, Susan.

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04/14/2016 7:20am

Children worldwide suffer from abuse everyday. Not too many people are aware of the different kinds of abuse the children undergo-not because they don?t care, but because it is not publicized enough for anyone to do anything about it. Human rights groups have mainly focused on the rights of adults rather than children- chiefly the reason why this issue has not yet been solved.

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06/07/2016 4:33am

Poetry and life always had a very old relation because it can give them a lot of satisfaction and great lines. I am really impressed with these type of extra ordinary things because it will give them a lot of satisfaction. I hope that the people will give a lot of satisfaction in their life.

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08/02/2016 5:20am

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