Healing can't be forced

alisandeSeptember 11, 2004

I'm scheduled to record some of my poems at a radio station next week. One of the selected poems is one I wrote about my daughter Jill. I've written several about her, but never read them in public. This particular one is impossible for me to read aloud without crying, so I'm in the process of withdrawing that poem from the program.

A friend of mine thinks this is a bad idea. She thinks I should work on reading it aloud, because to triumph over this would make me stronger. I told her it doesn't work that way. Strength comes, but healing has to happen naturally; it can't be forced. I was able to write the poem, but I can't control my voice or emotions when reading it. Most peopleÂincluding my therapistÂthink I've come a long way and am fairly strong, considering. I've written lots about Jill and have shared my story in a number of ways. I even read some of her poetry to a group. So it came as rather a shock to have someone tell me that I'm chickening out over this.


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I think you should follow your heart and if you know it will be too difficult, you should not try to read it. My sister suggests that I drive by my mother's house, but I just can't do it, and I don't intend to. I know nothing would be gained, and I will certainly not be stronger if I did it.

Wouldn't you love to share your deep feelings for the daughter you love so much? Then maybe get a dear friend or loved one to read it for you. If you like the idea, it would be a way to share Jill with others.

I totally understand how you feel. Healing is a very personal process, and only you know what is right for yourself.

PS Any chance you'd like to share it here?

    Bookmark   September 11, 2004 at 4:36PM
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Susan, if the poem is that special to you, I definitely think you should include it in the program. Like Socks suggested, have someone else read if if you can't. You may be sorry later if you don't.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2004 at 6:28PM
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Thanks, both of you. The poem will be published this year in a book put out by a University press, so it will get lots of exposure. I can't have anyone else read it at this occasion, because the radio station wants to record the actual poets from the book, reading the poems that will appear.

Yes, I can share it here. I'll do that tomorrow.

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   September 12, 2004 at 11:30PM
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If you think you can finish it eventually, my suggestion is to bring lots of tissues and read it. You don't have to read it quickly. If it is read aloud, it will have the greatest meaning if you do it.

If you just can't do it, don't feel bad! If the thought of your heart tearing in such a public situation just doesn't feel doable, then just leave it for the book, and people will gain a lot from reading it.

Congratulations on having your poetry chosen.


    Bookmark   September 13, 2004 at 5:48PM
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Thanks, Wendy. I think any effort I make would be useless. This poem has Jill and her father in it. I just tried reading it aloud at home, alone, and although I sounded fine in the beginning, I couldn't make it through. No big deal, though. I have two others to read, and the radio station will have plenty of other readers.

To My Own

The lapping cadence of an Irish poet,
his measured footfalls and air gently stirred
by the pace, brought me face to face with Morpheus,
until from the rolling sea of stanzas, one lost
word lain fallow these five months
rose up with such force I gripped
the sides of my chair, rocked
by a sound that might have come from you.

Hayfield. You walked down to it. You called
the herd of horses up from it. You skied
across its rises and dips, counted its clover leaves,
rode bareback through its tangled grass.

Still, this sepia scene does not define you; nor
do you speak in the sharp straw snapping
underfoot. Your words shine with the strength
and frailty of silk, musicÂ

The clarinet case is closed. Your sixteenth notes
gave up their grip on the night air, and fell
to the forest floor. A deer will come
upon them and prick its ears.

The horses are sold.
The last of your fatherÂs memories
mix with ground fog, soon to burn off
in a harsh morning sun.

Incalculable loss.

No words will remain for this.
But oh, my daughter, the hayfield,
the empty, barren hayfield,
is still here.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2004 at 7:14PM
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I just read it three times and tears ran down my cheeks each time.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2004 at 7:33PM
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OMG! I can see how you can't read it without crying. How beautiful and sad. I'm sorry, Susan.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2004 at 9:58PM
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Thank you for sharing something so deeply personal, straight from your heart. Anyone reading it will be touched by its beauty and tragedy.

Hope all goes well for you on the radio this week, even though I know you are not planning to read To My Own.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2004 at 10:12AM
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That is such a wonderful poem. I would be proud for others to read it. Even if you do cry. I would go for it.. don't withdraw. It will do your heart proud to know it was done. Even with the tears and reading it slowly... I think they will get the picture in their minds as if it were real. I cried...


    Bookmark   September 19, 2004 at 12:32AM
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