Some time ago I posted here about the evolution of the first poem in my new book, Hugging the Rock. Since the book is officially out now, I thought I would share another poem from the book. This one is called, THE ROCK, and appears at the beginning of the book on the very day that the main character’s mom runs away from home. People ask me who the “rock” is based on and like many characters in books, he is a mix of several people with healthy dashes of my imagination. I never knew my dad (but I do know that he was NOT a rock) but for the first ten years of my life I had a grandfather that I followed everywhere. He was a quiet man who never said the words “I love you” even though he showed it in many ways.
Madison waits for an invitation
to jump into her usual spot
on the front seat of Mom’s car.
Mom pushes her away
but Madison doesn’t understand
and starts to bark.
Mom tells me again
my place is with Dad.
She tells me
someday I’ll understand.
I look at Dad
who is trying hard not to look at Mom
as she gets ready to drive away.
He hugs his arms close to his chest
sucks his bottom lip in over his teeth.
He wears what Mom calls his disappearing face
because when he wears it
all his feelings just disappear
and no one can tell what he’s thinking.
I go stand next to him.
I want to hold his hand and have him hold mine
but that’s not the way things work
with me and Dad.
I lean on him just a little
and he steps away.
back and forth
before I catch my balance.
Mom says he’s a rock,
the good kind you can always count on
to do the right thing.
It’s hard for me to think of a rock
as something good.
Some rocks are heavy
and make you sink.
Some rocks are too big to move.
And some rocks are sharp
and cut you
if you try to hold them in your hand.
Susan Taylor Brown
from the book Hugging the Rock
Tricycle Press, September 2006