Wednesday, August 3, 2011


If you've been here before, you might know that I am not really into poetry. I am happy for those of you who enjoy it as a vehicle for self expression, but I don't normally appreciate it, though I try to. Four years ago, though, when I first started blogging, this one just kind of flowed out of me, and I found it cathartic.  Given how hot it's been everywhere lately, I realize you'll have to use your imagination to remember what it's like to be cold, but hopefully, you'll appreciate it.

This poem is based on a real-life event.


I stand against the school's brick wall, 
waiting for my ride.
It's winter. Saturday afternoon.
I'm ten.

Others twirlers and tap-shoe wearers
rush out to their cars to head home.
The heavy metal door clicks shut behind me,
the school asleep until Monday.

"I don't need a ride, thanks! My dad is coming."
"Are you sure? It's so cold out here!"
"Yup. Thanks anyway! My dad's picking me up."

I wait.
It's bitter cold.
Where is he?
He'll be here soon.

I sing,
practice standing on one foot, then the other,
do a few jumping jacks.
trace the grout of the brick with my mitten.

The moisture inside my nose becomes a frozen, needly web.
I chew on the inside of my cheek, suck my dry lips.
Where is he??

My eyes tear from the icy wind,
a frozen sheen covers my cheeks.
Fingers that an hour ago nimbly twirled a baton
are now clenched inside my mittens; crippled by the cold.
I shiver in my threadbare coat and hand-me-down boots,

Where is he??
I stamp my feet
clap my hands
adjust my scarf
swallow tears.

Strangers in toasty cars pass by.
He'll be here soon.
I count the cars.
He'll be here after the third car that goes by.
After the next red car.
After the tenth red car.

Where is he??
Daddy, please come and get me...
I'm only ten.

Whenever the weather gets this cold (zero degrees, with below-zero wind-chill), I can't help but remember the time my dad sat, drunk in a bar, and forgot to pick me up from a baton-twirling class. I don't remember how I ever got home that day. I only remember the bitter cold and my desperate fear...and that I was only ten.


  1. This is chilling (no pun intended).
    Seriously, so so sad.

  2. You did a wonderful job of writing this out.I think sometimes the healing begins in the telling...

  3. This is so surreal--I thought I had scheduled this post for Wednesday! I don't see it on my blog right now OR in my list of posts Scheduled OR Published. However, I do see it in my Reader and was able to click through to it "on" my blog. How strange. Oh well, sorry for the depressing Monday post!

    Katherine-You're right! Thanks for reading, DM :)

  4. You do know what is like being a child of an alcoholic. We grew up in different generations, but the child experience is the same. I want to hug that little girl and tell her she is safe now.

  5. Technobabe said it perfectly. I didn't have that experience, but I feel for any little kid that can't rely on her/his parents.

  6. It's hard for me to understand poetry most of the time but I felt that one. And my heart is breaking for your ten year old self. This only proves even further that alcoholism rarely hurts the alcoholic the most.

  7. So sad, but so beautifully written.

  8. I too am the child of alcoholics; one turnes Jesus a holic. (((HUGS)))

  9. Tough memories often lead to the best kind of writing. We are dealing with a similar alcoholic issue presently in the extended family. I'm glad you made it back okay and turned out pretty damn well as an educator (insert awards here) and role model (parent, leader, singer, dancer, photographer, cook, hiker, traveller, and best of all - storyteller!)

  10. Thanks, Dave. That's really sweet. As much as I didn't enjoy some of those moments, I do admit that they helped develop some skills that have served me well in life.

    I wish you luck with your family's situation.

  11. Sad that the experience is probably more common than we care to think.

  12. My inner 10-year-old just kicked your dad in the shin.

    My grown-up-now self just gave you a hug for remembering that. I hate it when those memories come creeping back.


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