Tuesday, May 17, 2016

SOL: On Becoming an Adult

After completing the SOL Daily writing challenge in April, I've decided to link up occasionally to their Tuesday posts.  Two Writing Teachers host this fantastic community.

There's a lot going on right now.

A lot.

Both reading and blogging are falling by the wayside this week.  But I was just looking through some old documents on my computer and found this sort-of-poem I wrote several years ago, before we adopted our kids.  I thought I'd post it here for the SOL challenge.  It's a slice of my past.

It's also the only free verse poem I've attempted in about 25 years.  I've never worked out how to write poetry that isn't just prose with weird line breaks.

When I first realized I was an adult,
I was so pleased.
Walking down a city street in a strange land,
carrying a sack of groceries
purchased with money I’d earned myself.
A few years later, another sign.
The twelve-year old looks up trustingly from her desk
and asks me to feel her forehead
to see if she has a fever. 
Becoming an adult
is what you spend childhood preparing for
(especially those of us
who spend our adolescence rolling our eyes at our classmates’ antics).

But now it seems that time
insists on carrying me along
in her relentless march.

My mother gone
too soon for her, with projects started in her studio
seeds ordered for the garden
talk of a camping trip next summer
and too soon for me.
I still need her guidance.
“How do I do this?”
I want to ask
as I lay on the table while the technician
rolls a wand over my belly.
She peers at the screen, not looking for a telltale tail
but just to determine if this unending ellipses of a period
is merely my body giving up on fertility in yet another way
or the sign of something more malignant.
This ultrasound won’t become my profile picture
won’t be posted on my fridge
at best, it signals hormone therapy and hot flashes.
“How do I do this?”
I want to ask Mom,
veteran of heart disease, stroke, breast cancer.
But when I get home, feeling forlorn,
there’s no Mom to call.

So I find comfort in some chocolate
and the nook of my husband’s neck.
Younger than me, but feeling his age as well.
Twelve years without his father,
and the young bucks during harvest season reaching over to help with the heavy loads.
How do we do this?  It keeps getting harder.
And our foundations have disappeared.
So we do what they did.
We lean on each other.  We keep going. 


  1. This gave me goosebumps. That scene of you lying on the table for an ultrasound was very vivid and poignant. The repetition of "how do I do this" is haunting to me. My mom is still here, but I know when she is gone that question will plague me.

    This is one of the best poems I've ever read. I absolutely love it.

    1. Thank you so much! It's obviously very personal, so I have trouble a analyzing it. I'm glad it meant something to you.

  2. How poignant the things that remain after loved ones pass on. Your listing of the artifacts your mom left behind speaks to the unexpected passing. How do you do this? You just do.

    1. Exactly.
      Grief is both intensely personal and absolutely universal. We can't tell each other how to do it, but we can tell each other that it can be done.


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