This past summer in one of my Masters courses, we were asked to creatively express what it felt like in our household at age ten. This set of poems is titled “Spared” and each is based on an individual familial relationship from that stage of life.



you stand in the back of the studio
my work held up for twenty little eyes to see
I look back to make sure yours picked up
the way I made the sand look speckled
under the hula-dancing hippo’s toes

we gather up my supplies
and I talk your ear off

we journey
through the emptied parking lot
the night air was not quite as refreshing
as your smiling eyes
at my enthusiastic retelling of the day

wonder woman
you labored from 9-4
sat in traffic from 4-6
yet I’d never be able to tell by your warm energy
a hard day’s work
made you all the more soft

you asked if I wanted more cheese on my pasta
knowing full well I didn’t yet like your tomato sauce
I asked where my science project was
knowing full well you’d know just where it sat

7th heaven
on our tiny little TV in the kitchen
worlds different
from our quiet little family
I wondered what it’d be like
to have more brothers and sisters than would fit on a hand
yet I knew
I’d never want it
if it meant giving up
a wonder woman like you




sat on the red and white bench seat
in the back of the antique car
you built bolt by bolt
I smoothed out my poodle skirt
itching for the adventures the day held

they handed me a plaque
the last kid
to drop the hula-hoop around her ankles
I bolted to your arms in delight
and you treated that piece of wood and metal
like I’d become Harvard’s valedictorian
set it in the glass cabinet
the one that holds your dad’s flag
& your mom’s pearls

never far from reach
and always my mirror
I inherited your short fuse
and your passion for life itself
you taught me I was your apple
each time you looked into my eyes like yours
and laughed with me

we traveled the whole world
on the asphalt around that oily shop
mopeds led to skinned knees
wheelies led to whispers
“let’s not tell mom”
between all this
the tickle fights and teasing
I ran out of time
to miss an older brother

with every shared moment
propelling my imagination
pools held submarines
our house, a nightly pillow war
your soul, a king



ginger ale bubbling
in the kaleidoscope glass
I peered over the kitchen counter
as you sliced cantaloupe
juicy, and fresh
piled in my Madeline dish
the only bowl that didn’t match your china

we sat in the den
and I realize now
you always let me hog the TV
and never got frustrated
when I dropped a stitch on my scarf
the repetition of the yarn on needles
as your kindness

these superlatives
“always” and “never”
don’t work with many humans
but with you they somehow stick
when matched with talk of your patience

a singular instance of scolding
you assured me I was more
than the pettiness I was displaying
your blue eyes drilled into me
a demand for the integrity
you knew I held
you refused to let me play small.

I love you for your laughter
always clearing cobwebs
of unnecessary frustration and fumbled reactions
never too late
to remind me I’m worthwhile



I bolted down the concrete steps
my first experience
with genuine fear

my mother told me after choir practice
that my hero was in a blue gown
in a strange bed not his own
& my eyes filled with tears of terror

we drove down by the beach
wasn’t I born here?
up the elevator
my legs couldn’t carry me fast enough
to your arms

I was somewhat shocked to see
you were the same man I loved
but simultaneously I knew deep
you were much bigger than a tumor could consume
the twinkle in your eye
shone bright as ever
I settled back into my skin

a few weeks later
the day you rode in your pickup truck?
was the happiest I’d ever known
we were back to afternoons at the mall
and Sunday mornings in your lap

I took great pride
in being your June bug
five minutes with you
left me with the hiccups and a settled peace
I knew I was just who I was supposed to be

you planted me
your deep love
the most like home I’ve ever known
I couldn’t see it then
with my clunky new glasses & stringy brown hair
but in the light of your acceptance
I bloomed



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s