Depending On When You Met Me …

Depending On When You Met Me

Depending on when you met me,
I might have been:

A five-year-old sitting alone on a stoop,
Tongue stuck out of the corner of her mouth,
Brow furrowed in concentration,
As she fought to master the art
Of shoelace-tying...

A ten-year-old grade five, terrified
To be starting at her fourth new school,
This time in a different province,
And enduring the stares of those
Who'd all grown up together...

A fifteen-year-old writing in a middle-school library,
Churning out lunch-time pages for an anxious crowd,
The latest installment of a soap opera
Starring Duran Duran
Taking acceptance where she could get it...

A twenty-year-old security guard, doing outside rounds
Of a fifty-acre psychiatric hospital property,
Swinging a Detex clock and breathing in fog,
Silently begging the shadows not to move, and her
Fellow guards not to prank...

A twenty-five-year-old tour guide,
Wearing a mishmash of "historic costume",
Biting her tongue behind the wide smile,
As those who had just been rude asked,
"Can you tell me where to go?" ...

A thirty-year-old substitute teacher,
Wheeling AV carts through crowded halls,
Asking strangers to unlock classroom doors,
Ignoring "Don't smile until Christmas,"
And learning to teach math in French on the fly...

A thirty-five-year singing Duranie,
In a university stadium in Northern Virginia,
Finally seeing the original band members 
Twenty years after screaming herself hoarse 
At LiveAid on television...

A forty-year-old crisis intervention worker,
Answering middle-of-the-night calls
At the domestic violence shelter
A resource of resources, and
Powered by energy drinks...

A forty-five-year-old brain injury survivor,
Parking in the lot at Walden Pond for the first time,
Blinking in disbelief, relief and sheer joy,
Having made it there entirely under her own power,
And not been squashed like Frogger on the I-95...

A fifty-year-old pandemic recluse
Staring at a screen full of rectangular strangers,
All teacher-writers with words to share,
With her feeling like the first day of grade five again,
Not knowing that they were all her friends already.

Words in My Head

Words in My Head

I go to sleep with headphones on
to keep the brain occupied
and the demons at bay

Those words in my head
fill up any cracks
that would allow the
dark to get in

Went to bed with a
heart so heavy
The breath would barely come

Months of isolation
from ideas
from contact
from people-watching and
from new horizons
Even the fumes were gone

4:16 AM
I heard words
Poetry
A poet blazing his truth
His life
Lighting the dark

My heart stirred
My breathing quickened
And like an old furnace
My own words ignited once more.

The podcast I woke hearing — and which breathed oxygen to that dwindling ember inside — was a rerun of this episode of CBC’s Ideas: The Last Bohemian: Lawrence Ferlinghetti.


This post was created as part of the Poetry Friday challenge, hosted each week by a different poet.  Today’s host, Michelle Kogan, is celebrating a birthday this weekend!  Please enjoy her lovely poem on her blog and wish her a happy birthday in the comments.

Special shout-out to my friend and fellow poet, Christie Wyman, whose mutual love of Walden and writing has led me to my pandemic lifeline that has gotten me this far.