read write poem napowrimo #11
prompt by Angie Werren The thing you didn’t choose
RWP member Angie Werren invites us to write about the choice we didn’t make:
Everyday we make choices. Some are small: English breakfast or Lipton? the highway or back roads? Some are more significant: convertible or mini-van? farmhouse or condo?
Some choices lead us straight into the life we’re living, but for this poem, think about one of the things in your life you didn’t choose.
Be concrete. Pick an object — something tangible* — and write your poem directly to it, as if you were writing it a personal letter. Explain why you didn’t choose it. What could things have been like if you had? Talk about what your life has become without it. See where the “confession” takes you.
*As an alternative, dig a little deeper and write your poem to a person you left behind.
(Almost too volatile a prompt? Many many choices to make right here and now. I listened. This one finally came, spoke the loudest to me. So be it. And not coincident, a core part of near long gone reason why I write. Express, no matter what. Lines being rewritten even now, so likely for a future revision too, this will be. And thus it is, my first relationship.)
You’ve gone back to earth so I’m writing here
where just anyone can read can see, witness
a mother and son, writing from your very last home
sitting in the very bedroom where you slept
although I’ve painted the walls since then
Things are getting rounder now, rough worn smooth
like water does like it was too shallow then, was that it?
A flood would have revealed more than dry autumn fled
Sitting next to me on that single bed I remember
the postcard you said to me (it wasn’t enough was it mom?)
But children hear everything (don’t they mom?)
And I bet you felt everything (didn’t you?) (I did and do)
Like they say, you did your best (I’m sure you did)
Your best to endure to provide to carry on years and years
but I would have liked the taste of your tears the frantic
unmoving underbelly of your pain (just to know out loud)
Instead I ate the fear unspeakable (bad choice you see)
Like mother like son? I suppose, that much that wasn’t
foolhardy fearhardy loving-instead-of-silent-not-breathing
And maybe (we won’t know) I could have taken the pain
So I’m supposed to say what I didn’t choose, you know
and they’re all listening here, where the April rain comes
singing down on my roof and the garden I dug and planted
outside, listening like on that creaky old bed
And what would my life have been otherwise?
(They asked me mom)
* to bear again
I didn’t choose to be less afraid than you
I didn’t choose to jump into your silence with better breath
I didn’t choose to be only me (and not partly shadow of you)
I could have comforted you (who knows what’s possible!)
Maybe you would have even been comforted, surprised
by what life can become unexpectedly
Could have been a mother and son
Instead, half a life, coming home, rendering some comfort
maybe you always wanted even if you couldn’t say
But home is home no matter the road
Love, your Son
Neil Reid © April 2010
(every fierce battle in your life is with a paper dragon)
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