Thorn in My Side

Today’s Poetic Asides Prompt is to write a poem that is a dedication, or a poem with a dedication.

Thorn in My Side
to my Gadfly

Here’s the thing:
The outrage dissipates so much more quickly now.
There’s the kick in the gut when I see your name
there on the email, and I think, “Here we go again,”
and then a moment of panic, another of anger,
and then, this time. . .

I sat there just watching what was happening
inside my head, expecting the roaring in the ears,
the tunneling of vision, the white light blinking
in the back of my brain. And there was nothing, really.
And then, what I didn’t expect: gratitude.
Quiet, twinkling gratitude, and steady purpose.

That shocked me. I’m so used to the exhausting fury,
the worry and self-righteous indignation.
But this time I may have begun to pass the test,
to rest a moment in my breathing, then focus on my center,
to enter–finally–a space where I can see myself,
and you, and shift the focus of the attack.

The thing is:
You have been a better teacher
than you could ever imagine,
and likely more than you intend,
and I have been a less than willing student,
too eager to defend my ego
in the face of your attacks.

You’ve taught me to be curious
about the fury that you send my way,
to stay within my heart-space,
even to offer grace in the midst of your rage.
I have found safety that you cannot touch,
your cages will catch me no longer.
I’m stronger now, and I can hold the net
you toss my way, and turn it
to a golden thread.

River Has Her Pathways

 
River has her many pathways.

Dear Shining Girl,

You stand poised in the limbo of doorway, and the light nearly shines through you, prisming the water in your eyes.

The hallways have emptied, but for that cluster of your friends who can’t quite say goodbye.

And you, like a forest doe, still pause on the threshold, ready to bolt at hint of danger.

It has been a season of words, and I the purveyor, the pusher, the cataloguer, the demagogue of vocabulary.

But I have no words for this transparent glimmer of invisibility you wear, for the way this grief has caught you by the shoulders, the way your words suddenly lock themselves into that golden cage of your throat.

Your giddy group of comrades bounces down the hallway and you take a step out of the shadows. Their joy is a distorted mirror of your misery.

When you go from this woodland of words and the solace of chums, who will See you? Who will know who you are?

Take heart, Shining Girl. Let those words that have caught in your chest like a trapped bird beating against the windowpane–let them fill the hollow spaces until there is no more space to fill, and then they will burst forth, radiant as your name.

I will be listening for that moment.


The last day of school is so exciting for so many of us. For some, however, it is a return to uncomfortable places, long stretches of loneliness, days of not being Seen. I need to remember that not everyone is experiencing this riot of joy.


Gratitude List:
1. Dedication for the seniors this evening. Glorious group of young people, about to be unleashed upon the world. They’re a force to be reckoned with.
2. Last day. It’s a big relief for me.
3. Icarus oriole still sings from his treetops, often enough that in my short forays into the pollen-infested world, I can hear him sing.
4. Empanadas–somebody’s mother left us empanadas in the Faculty Lounge. Oy. My.
5. Lunch was Vietnamese food provided by our wonderful principals. Delicious, and a great chance to connect with colleagues before separating for the summer.

May we walk in Beauty!