Monday, November 1, 2010

Like a Drawer in a Dresser

Last night I watched a 20/20 episode chronicling three teens' battles with heroin addiction. I was reminded that not all my former students have found their way. One of the benefits of having worked in the same schools for more than a decade now, though, is that I have been around to see some phoenixes rise from their ashes.

A woman I now call friend had an inauspicious start as my middle school student. I helped her out of some tough spots in high school, and wrote this poem about her several years ago. We met for dinner in September and over Indian food reflected on how our lives have changed since the day our paths crossed. My life has intersected with the lives of many incredible and resilient people, and she is one of them.

(Note: this poem is a pantoum, a form in which lines are repeated in a pattern)

For You, M.

I forgot to tell you yesterday how it felt
When you went wheeling, wailing by
Slid into the ambulance like a drawer in a dresser
I cried; my body felt weightless and light

When you went wheeling, wailing by
I didn’t look; I didn’t think it was anyone I knew; later
I cried; my body felt weightless and light
The first time I remember forgetting myself

I didn’t look; I didn’t think it was anyone I knew; later
I wondered how I could ignore your desperation
The first time I remember forgetting myself
Concentrating on you concentrating on pain

I wondered how I could ignore your desperation
And how you could ignore my outstretched arms
Concentrating on you concentrating on pain
I watch you forgetting yourself

And how you could ignore my outstretched arms
Is a question not worth asking, as
I watch you forgetting yourself
Trembling, shaking, cold and anxious

Is a question not worth asking, as
Other things are more important
Trembling, shaking, cold, and anxious
I want to wrap my happiness and comfort around you

Other things are more important
Slid into the ambulance like a drawer in a dresser
I want to wrap my happiness and comfort around you
I forgot to tell you yesterday how it felt

2 comments:

Mama Deb said...

Wow. That is fantastic. Really glad your friend came through that.

wittylittlesecret said...

Something about how the drawer in a dresser closes, to put things away and hide them from sight strikes me as meaningful here, too. Brava.