Almost Viable

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(Photo: Gabriel Jimenez on Unsplash)

 

She was almost there.

The core of her was almost

But perhaps not quite. Viable.

It took so much of her. To form. To build.

To be.

To sift the valued from the wreckage.

The meaning

From the hurt.

That there was little left.

Yet.

For viability.

Nonetheless it was still in there.

Nascent. Waiting.

For the rain.

For the sunlight.

For the nourishment.

For what had already sprouted and was on its way

To the life

She was.

And could

Sustain.

 

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Viable in 82 words.

 

Arrowed Cloud

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(Photo: engin akyurt on Unsplash)

 

“He’s not cooperative,” his teacher warned me when I called to find out more about the boy who’d been referred to me for speech-language therapy. “He’ll find a hundred excuses to not do the work.”

“Sounds creative,” I interjected.

“He is,” the teacher conceded, “but it is exhausting.”

For him, too, I was sure.

“You’d think he’d settle down,” the teacher sighed, “but it’s like he’s gotten worse.”

Al* had language-learning issues. He struggled to express himself, to understand what he read and what was read to him. He mixed up letters. He mixed up messages. Exposed to alcohol (and quite likely to other substances) in utero, his early childhood was marked by constant shuffling between foster-care and reunifications with his biological mother, until parental rights were terminated, and he became eligible for adoption. He’d never known his dad. Al suffered from asthma. He had difficulty attending but reportedly “no difficulty misbehaving.” He scuffled. He cursed. He broke things. He kept getting in trouble. He spoke little, read less, and his writing was filled with errors. He was in fifth grade.

The “settle down” was a reference to his recent adoption by relatives of his biological mother. Now that he was in a “forever home with family besides” he was expected to move on. He was expected to “make gains,” close gaps, and be happy. He was undoubtedly happy for stability. He was also grieving, furious, frustrated, and failing at school. He acted out. He shut down. He “did not cooperate.”

He’d had at least four previous speech therapists. The teacher informed me that “he hates ‘Speech.’”

 

“You don’t look thrilled to have another speech therapist,” I noted on our first session together.

He raised a single eyebrow so perfectly that I wondered if he had practiced the move in front of a mirror.

I smiled. “Speech can be fun …”

“It sucks.” He stated.

I nodded. “I hear ya.”

“So, I can go?”

“Good try,” I chuckled. “We’re stuck together for now.”

He shrugged but didn’t flee.

“I don’t do work.” He warned, testing.

“So let’s not call it work,” I agreed. “Let’s just figure out ways to make the other work you have to do, a little easier. Because I think you’ve had to work way too hard.”

He narrowed his eyes, suspicious.

“I mean it. And … I can understand wanting things to be easier.”

He shrugged. Crossed his arms. Leaned into the backrest of the chair.

I saw it as truce.

The next few sessions were like pulling teeth. His attention flickered. He vetoed some tasks. He tried to sulk. But he listened. And he didn’t disappear into the boys’ bathroom when it was time for sessions. He tolerated me, which was better than what the teacher (and Al?) had predicted.

We took it slow.

Then I brought Shel Silverstein’s poems to a session.

“I’m not a baby,” he bristled.

“It’s not for babies,” I retorted. “It’s also for grownups. The illustrations may look silly, but lots of this is about serious stuff.”

He folded his arms and closed his eyes. On strike.

Or not.

I read.

His eyebrows were knit together, but then his shoulders lowered, and he took a breath. He frowned. He chewed his lip. He listened.

When I finished, he opened his eyes. Held my gaze.

“Cool, eh?”

He shrugged.

“Poetry is like that,” I said. “I love how it can find words for things, sometimes.”

He shook his head. Twisted his lips. Stared at the book. Flipped through the pages.

“Want me to read another one?”

He shrugged.

I did.

I read three more.

He scribbled arrows piercing clouds.

 

The next time I saw him, he pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket. Fiddled with it. Shy.

“You have something?” I chanced.

Shrug. He stared at the poetry book I had prepared for us again. Unfolded his paper. Refolded it. Coughed. Took a breath. Thrust the note in my direction.

“Can I look?” I asked. Consent is tricky with kids who’d had others decide everything for them. I didn’t want him to think he had to show me.

He nodded. “I write it.”

I unfolded the page. Eight wobbly lines of transposed letters in phonetic spelling. A poem.

“Can I read it?” I checked.

He looked up at me, vulnerable and holding up an olive branch of trust, “yeah, but … but not loud …”

 

 

 

(Originally published in the March 2022 issue of ISSTD News as “Arrowed Cloud – The Use of Poetry in Therapy” )

*Name and details changed to protect privacy.

Season For Reason

Sunflowers InbarAsif

(Photo: Inbar Asif)

 

‘Tis the season for

Reason.

Time for soul to be

Bold.

Time to oust stale perceptions

And to justice

Uphold.

‘Tis the season for

Reason.

To let true heart

Take root

And dishonesty

Doom,

So the summers of

Tomorrow

May

Sing sunflowers to

Bloom.

 

 

For the dVerse quadrille poetry challenge: Season

 

 

Storied Stories

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They climbed in silence, single file, the occasional foot scraping a bare concrete step.

Lindon pressed his lips. It helped stop the trembling. This was his first ‘trip’ off the ward and he wanted to look around. To look at others for their reactions. But new or not, he’d learned enough to understand that it was better not to. He kept his head low.

A scent hit him. Like Grandma’s house. Last month. Eons ago. He blinked.

The stairs ended. He looked up. His eyes grew.

His heart, too.

A room of books.

Stories. Escape.

He knew he would survive.

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

Photo prompt © Ted Strutz

 

 

When The Weather Allows

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“When will they come home?” Lizbeth’s voice penetrated Mauve’s daydream. It was rare to find rest in the middle of her day, and Mauve couldn’t help a touch of resentment at the interference. Guilt smothered it. The wee bairn could not help wondering. She missed her brothers as much as Mauve did her sons.

“When the weather allows it,” Mauve gazed at the sea. The maker and breaker of everything. She loved it. She loathed it. She couldn’t see a life without it.

“Tonight?” Lizbeth pressed against the rail.

“More possible tomorrow,” Mauve swallowed a sigh. “So we shall hope.”

 

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

Photo prompt © Bradley Harris

 

Finding Fido

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“Still nothing,” Sally said as soon as Damian came through the door.

His shoulders sagged. The whole drive home he’d hoped for news. He didn’t dare imagine beyond that, but his arms ached and his cheeks felt cold without the welcome of unabashed wriggles and wet kisses.

And to think he’d never wanted “a beast in the house.” To think he’d been so set against it.

Little did he know that a furball in a giant velvet bow would burrow deeper into his heart than anyone before it. Including, if he was honest, the two-legged.

“I taped more flyers,” Sally filled the silence. “And called the vets … just in case.”

Damian nodded over the tightness in his throat.

“Mary is so sorry …” Sally pressed on. “She didn’t mean to leave the door unlatched.”

“I’ve to go,” Damian grabbed his gun. “I must find Fido before the dark does.”

 

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Dew On A Banana Leaf

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(Photo: Ferhat Deniz Fors on Unsplash)

 

“Have you seen her?” Mark thrust his head and shoulders through the open dutch door.

Ella nodded carefully. The light’s angle made the perspiration dotting Mark’s wide forehead look like dew on a banana leaf. How odd.

“And?” he pressed.

“Daphne is fine.”

Mark grunted his impatience. “That’s not what I meant, and you know it!”

Ella sighed in resignation. There will be no escaping the truth, no matter how much it could hurt him. “There’s a glow about her, if you must know.”

Mark sagged.

“And … an engagement ring on her finger.”

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt of Glow in 94 words

 

In Every Dawn

New Dawn

(Photo: Na’ama Yehuda)

 

The light spun silent waves

Of day

Into her heart,

Her chambers slowly opening

Their delicate petals

To sing

The morning’s chant.

There is a hope,

She knows,

In every dawn.

Its breath imparting

An oasis

And a coming home.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Oasis in 40 words

 

The Underside of Recollection

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(Photo: Mick Haupt on Unsplash)

 

It was merely by a feather,

But nonetheless a

Tether

To a life before,

When friends were at the

Door,

And when she did not have to worry

About honor, trust, or

Glory.

She held on to the underside

Of recollection.

To the roots of love that

Promised a

Direction.

For there had been simplicity to life,

An implicit understanding

That words as given were meant

To keep,

And that the sun will rise in

The morn after a

Sleep.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Tether in 80 words

 

Arranged

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(Photo: Ben Rosett on Unsplash)

 

There was not much to do but wait.

And hope.

The lots were cast,

Though she had very little trust

In such.

It was not for her

To decide.

Now it was just,

The drip of minutes

Through childhood’s hourglass.

Dreams slowly fraying

Into dust,

While growing worries,

Poke trembling shoots

Into her heart.

Will this unknown,

Chosen for her

Husband,

Will he be

Kind?

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Challenge: unknown in 65 words