By now, I suppose these weekly poetic forays need little introduction. Just know that this, too, is the result of a poetry challenge asking participants to describe a moment in time using "Once upon a time" or other fairy tale language. The prompt also urged the writer not to fear the dark or the light subjects: simply write truthfully.
The Dangers of Sitting
Once upon a time,
There was a young girl
Who lived in ignorance of
What it really meant
To lose –
Not just for a day,
Not just for a season,
Not just for a year or two –
Someone who was, to her,
The earth and sky and sea.
Then one bright October day,
She came home from school,
Tired, sweaty and smiling,
And found her mother and father,
They asked her to sit on the soft floral couch,
So they could tell her that Granddaddy
Had fulfilled a life-long dream:
He had finally seen the Panama Canal,
Risen slowly through her mighty locks,
Told his true love he was ready to go home,
And, within a day or two,
Sailed from the sea into eternity.
There she sat, hands sweating,
Numb, confused, disbelieving,
Backpack abandoned on the floor,
Wishing she could stand up again,
And run from the knowing
That came with the sitting.
Wishing she could somehow go back –
Just a day,
Just a season,
Just a year or two –
And, clinging to his familiar hand,
Anchor him to the earth.
Once upon a time,
On a bitter November afternoon,
I saw your smiling faces
Through the grime and din of the subway.
Your smiles surrounded me,
And all of us engaged in the
uncharacteristically quiet bustle
from dark place to dark place
aboard the stinking, screeching trains
tunneling through the dirt.
Your eyes greeted me at every turn.
As I hugged my bag closer to me,
And tugged at my suddenly too-hot scarf.
I burned to look at you, to stare.
But I was strong, I didn’t cry,
I simply watched you watching me.
That is… until I saw that one –
The single face among the myriad faces
plastered to every column,
every wall –
The one with a joyful red scrawl:
I saw that one and could no longer ignore
What all of your unmarred faces cried:
All of you are lost.
Last seen in the vicinity of
Two tall towers that once stood
Proud vigil over the streets
of a city that promised the American dream,
and witnessed the nation’s nightmare.
For those of you who are interested, one of my complete poems from last week and a snippet from another was featured at High Calling Blogs.
The photo at the top of the post is a double-exposed gem we found when cleaning out my grandparents' house a few years ago. It features me, young and contemplative, and my grandfather. He passed away when I was 16, so this ghostly composite must have been at least 6 or 8 years old when the moment described arrived.