The girls in the back seat






The girls in the back seat
make their animals 
do interpretive dance 
to the tune of Colvin’s “Suicide Alley.”

They’re not listening 
and the words

dance with the animals
and will not settle on ears
or come to rest 
anywhere near their hearts

but if it were just 
the one, my own, 
she would be 
still,
looking out the window,
active,
holding her Bella,
listening 

and I would have to be ready
for her questing questions
about the meanings of words

and i would have to tell her what it means
to take one’s own life and 
I would have to tell her that
nobody knows what it means
to take one’s own life. 

I still don’t know 
what it means
not to.







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14 thoughts on “The girls in the back seat

    • Yes, and thank you–but….
      She is an astonishingly wise little girl, and so is perhaps a little more well-prepared for such knowledge than most.

      And these things
      are all things
      that we must
      at some time
      learn.

  1. I’ve quivered and felt inadequate to present each of such lessons as they’ve come up with our kids. But they are essential lessons to learn with family close.

    I lost my first true love to suicide when I was 16. His was my first lesson about suicide.

    hold my
    own hand
    alone

    move to
    escape
    the pain

    gun will
    silence
    my heart

  2. This is terrific on so many levels, but that surprise at the end is what really got me.

    Really well written and really well expressed. I’m going to share this, if you don’t mind. 🙂

    • Thank you so much Jeremy. The end surprised me as well. Once again, this was a piece that I worked on for some time before those last lines fell upon me and snicked into place almost as I was creating the post. I love it when that happens.
      I have been wrapped up lately in the idea (I think I got it from David Biespeil’s “The Poet’s Journey” essays?) that, ideally, the reader of a poem is sharing in the discoveries that the poet had in the writing of the poem. As the poem was being written. I am fascinated by this idea and thrilled when I feel it happening and yes, super-gratified (even vindicated?) when the experience is reflected back to me by a reader, especially an attentive one such as your good self!
      Again, thank you so much!

      • It is my pleasure, John. Believe me.

        I love the idea of shared discoveries in poetry. I think it’s true that that happens with really good and attentive readers of poetry. It can really thrilling to read someone’s work, as I did yours, and be caught by the writer’s discoveries. That’s exactly what happened in this case. 🙂

        A great poem you have here. Truly.

  3. Reblogged this on The Sand County and commented:
    This poem is simply terrific. I can relate to it as a father, a lover of music and art, a contemplative person and someone also caught by the wonder of sorrow and the sorrow of wonder. I think this poem is truly special.

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