MORE LIES I TOLD
In 4th grade,
hungry for praise of any kind,
I volunteered to memorize
the preamble to the constitution
practicing over and over
until I could recite the whole thing
without once looking at the words
scribbled on my hand.
My teacher sent me to another class
to show off how her teaching skills
made me good at memorizing.
One deep breath, then
I recited each word, smooth and clear,
pausing to make sure I didn’t trip over
“domestic tranquility” or “posterity”
Finished, the class clapped
then the teacher asked my name,
smiling when I told her,
smiling the kind of smile you smile
when something makes you feel good inside.
Any relation to Tommy Webb?
My heart pounded
when the name we never spoke at home
was blurted out in a room full of people.
My father’s name.
The father I didn’t know.
The father I felt sure
held the very answer to who I was
or who I was supposed to be.
But I was good at more than memorizing.
Trained for years to pretend
there was no such person as Tommy Webb
and if there was,
he had no hold on me,
I shook my head and said,
No. No relation at all.
@copyright Susan Taylor Brown 2010
All Rights Reserved
Ahhh! You’ve cut me to the heart again! I have two kids who are adopted and who do not know their fathers. Maybe that is part of why these poems are tearing me up so much.
Oh boy, I feel for your kids and you too! Some people it doesn’t bother as much and some people say that the family they have is all that matters to them. But I know I have always had a hole there, even thinking that what I might find out about him isn’t going to be possible I keep thinking it’s part of who I am and I want to know all the ugly stuff along with anything good.
Susan, you are slaying me with your poems! Your memories are so acute.
Thanks, Jama. I think at this point I am pulling up stuff that I went over and over and over in my head so it is imprinted pretty strongly.
Susan, I just read your so-far April poems. Oh my god. These are phenomenal. I hate to tell you this, because I don’t want you to put pressure on yourself, but I think your next book is unwrapping itself, being born, right here on your blog. These are amazing. Go, Susan!
Oh Laura, thank you so much. I’d love to think this would be a book but I fear it falls between the cracks. It’s not a child’s POV but an adult looking back and where’s the market for that? A memoir? But then who would buy a memoir from someone who isn’t know?
I don’t know….we’ll see what I have after 30 poems. But thank you. I am so lacking in confidence about my poems that I really appreciate the support.
Write from the heart now, and then see what you have…that’s exactly right, I think!
Have you read Mother Poems, by Hope Anita Smith (Henry Holt)? Really emotional poems that strike a similar emotional chord to me (not that the topic is the same).
Anyway, just keep on going!
Thanks. There’s something amazing that’s been happening behind the scenes as a result of this project (will have to email you about it) and I’m sure it will affect and inform where I go with it. I want it to be a book but will just have to see what I have at the end.
I’ll go check out Hope’s book. Thank you.
I wish I could teleport back to that day and give you a hug, Susan.
Thank you. Hugs are always welcome.
wow. I got goosebumps when I read this. Really great!! You are so good at getting right down into the nitty gritty, telling the story in so few words, while joining the reader into the conversation. I felt your emotions. thanks for sharing!
Thank you, Lori. My guts are all over the pages so I think my emotions are flying all over the place. 🙂
GREAT POEM, Susan….
This is obviously a very, very personal part of who you are and it’s become such a canvas that you create very personal works of art from—your book, your poems and now, your art.
We get to enjoy these pieces even though they may “tear us up” or “made me cry.” Yet, you are torn up and maybe cry often—or at least, once did.
Though my circumstance is not the same—my father, too, was missing from my life when I was very young. He died three months before my fourth birthday. So, I too, have lots of unanswered questions. Similarly, I question how I’ve come to be who am because of him and what happen to him.
And even though I only know you from our cyber-friendship here on Live-Journal, maybe that’s why I feel a kinship to you as someone who may have a similar story or at least, one that I can “understand.”
Thanks for sharing, Susan.
Re: GREAT POEM, Susan….
Thank you, Slatts, for sharing some of your story with me. I do think that kindred souls somehow find each other across the universe and that can only be a good thing.
This poetic journey has been an amazing experience thus far.
Thank you for sharing these poems, Susan.
Thanks for reading along, Janni.
I know the hole you are talking about but in different ways in 4th class I had my second operation on my legs. My mum came to see me in hospital everyday but my dad never came and I was in there for 3 week. I kept hoping that one day he would come and he never did.
Guess he is still not coming even now.
I know you know that hole. Hugs for both of those little girls.
tanita says 🙂
No relation. We don’t relate.
A sharp jab to the solar plexus.