Arrowed Cloud

engin-akyurt-A9_IsUtjHm4-unsplash

(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.

Spring Unfolds

luminous park NaamaYehuda

(Photo: Na’ama Yehuda)

 

The sun shone

As spring gently yet

Resolutely strode

On.

The park evolved into

A luminous

Expanse

Of green

Shoots

And pink petals

Unfold.

A respite

From the winter’s

Cold.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt of: Luminous in 30 words.

 

Herself

lorenzo-fatto-offidani-IzyzbQie838-unsplash

(Photo: Lorenzo Fattò Offidani on Unsplash)

 

They told her to not

Make waves.

That to speak out is

Provocative

And that it is

Unladylike.

Unseemly.

And goes against the word of

God

As interpreted by

Themselves

Who see it as their duty

To

Control

Her.

They told her to be meek.

To atone

For the sins

Of

Eve.

She stood.

Unfurled.

Provocative.

As the Goddess made her.

Herself.

 

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Provocative in 62 words

 

Singing Dandelions

elijah-hiett-2r_POrGCFXY-unsplash

(Photo by Elijah Hiett on Unsplash)

 

The world was full of golden fuzz.

The sun shone on the meadow.

She let herself soar, up and up.

Her voice free to glide on from high to mellow.

 

“What is that god-awful noise?”

Aunt Edna woke, her voice a sonorous bellow.

“A yodel,” the child said.

“A bird in my throat sings the dandelions yellow.”

 

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt of: Yodel in 57 words

 

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

 

 

Or So He Claims

sandra-grunewald-1XrUUhSdnxk-unsplash

(Photo: Sandra Grünewald on Unsplash)

 

He would not ever harm

Another

Soul.

Or so he claims.

He says he doesn’t see the benefit

Of such a

Game.

His very words

Exclaim

Just how incapable he is of

Admitting blame

Or having even the

Appearance of

Shame.

It is clear to her that what

He purports

To be,

Makes him the very

Opposite of who

She will agree

to see.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Purport in 64 words

 

She Will Not Become

roberto-martinez-WBgPMst9toY-unsplash

(Photo: Roberto Martinez on Unsplash)

 

She will not become a mannequin.

Her mother may have images of what a daughter looks like.

Her father may hold his of what she must not, at any cost, resemble.

Her teachers may believe she found bad friends.

Her brothers had supplied them.

 

To all she says –

In mind if not in volume –

That she will not become,

A mannequin.

 

She will find her own way.

Her look.

Her path.

Her mirrors.

 

Enough already lost,

As childhood magic

Left,

And stripped

Her life austerer.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Mannequin in 85 words

 

I Am NOT!

jordan-ladikos-AzXvM3IoYMI-unsplash

(Photo: Jordan Ladikos on Unsplash)

 

I am NOT,

She insisted,

Capricious

Or blind.

I am bold.

I am loud.

I am the life of

The crowd.

I speak up.

I won’t hush.

My decisions

May clash.

My opinions indeed

Tend to

Unwind,

And it’s true that

I’m good at

Changing

My mind.

But I am not,

(At this moment)

Arbitrarily

Inclined.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: capricious in 55 words

 

Laid-Back Lizzie

circe-denyer-W_8Tivmufmo-unsplash

(Photo: Circe Denyer on Unsplash)

 

Laid-back Lizzie

Would not be pressed

Into a tizzy.

She left herself

With ample

Time,

To saunter to and

From her

Crime.

She kept pace

When sirens blared

And ambled on

As others stared.

She did not hold

With running

Fast.

But strolling was what

Caught up with her

At last.

 

 

 

For Sammy’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Saunter in 51 words

 

In The Wrong

anna-hecker-vrkw8LbA300-unsplash

(Photo: Anna Hecker on Unsplash)

 

She was, always, in the wrong.

The wrong path. The wrong friends.

The wrong choices. The wrong dress.

The wrong dreams. The wrong job.

Wrong husband.

Wrong … no … not the wrong children.

Just the sometimes-very-difficult ones.

No wonder,

When her every action was judged

Widdershins.

So she chose to listen

To no one,

But the small call

Of her soul,

And the small arms that wrapped

Around her legs

When she reached

Down.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: widdershins in 75 words