June Poem

A few weeks ago, Mel challenged her MFA Sunday School students to write a villanelle.  This was a new one for me.  And quite difficult.  It’s metered, rhymed, and two of the lines are repeated at very specific places within the form.  This is what I came up with.  It’s a very rough draft, and still untitled, so be kind.

It’s when I think of all the things I’ve missed
that life bears down on me with all its weight.
I want someone to guide me by the wrist.

My mother, if she were here, would insist
I focus on the things I can create
and not obsess on all the things I’ve missed.

But now she’s gone; I’ll add her to the list.
She’ll never hold my child—that’s my sad fate—
and she’s not here to guide me by the wrist.

The life we’ve always wanted can’t exist
without science to help us procreate.
It makes me think of all the things I’ve missed,

like pregnancy announcements with a twist—
Surprise!  I didn’t know ‘til I was late.
I want someone to guide me by the wrist

away from all the grandmothers who’ve kissed
their grandkids’ cheeks while I accumulate
the souvenirs of all the things I’ve missed
and yearn for a child to guide by the wrist.


16 thoughts on “June Poem

  1. Oh, this is wonderful. You should be proud. And I’m an English major who had to write a few villanelles in my time, so my opinion should totally count for something! 🙂 I say that with a smile, but it still sucks that you’re going through this. I’m sorry. 😦

    • Thank you. I was an English major, too. 🙂 Writing about this stuff actually helps me process and eventually get over it. Or at least make it less bad.

  2. Oh, Daryl, this is so powerfully beautiful, it took my breath away. I love the repetition of specific words within the rhyming pattern (which I suppose is part of the structure of a villanelle). And I love how the phrase “to guide me by the wrist” changes in the last line – the two phrases are perfect metaphors for the two generations you are missing and yearning for so much. Sometimes people mean this figuratively, but in this case, it’s literal: you brought tears to my eyes.

  3. I love that image of being guided by the wrist. It actually makes me think of the way you lead a child, holding their hand as you cross the street.

    You actually made this harder than it needed to be by playing with the wording in your repeat lines vs. keeping the same original line, but having that original line mean something different based on the lines around it.

    What if you tried rewriting dropping the meter — set it aside for a moment. Would that make it easier?

    • Thanks, Mel. I actually found it a little easier to change the first half of the line and make one line flow into the next. Thanks for your observations and suggestions. Getting away from the meter is the part that’s hard for me. A lot of my poetry tends to be metered, at least in the first draft, but it may be worth playing around with.

  4. This is beautiful. It brought a tear to my eye and a knot to my stomach, knowing what you long for but cannot have.

  5. This is wonderful. Again, you have inspired me to give it a go. I’m way behind on the Sunday School. Sad but beautiful. And look at that, what you just created.

  6. Really beautiful – I especially like the last stanza. I know I’ve said this before but I love the imagery in your writing. I couldn’t come up with anything for this assignment – you make it look much easier than it is!

  7. Hello! The villanelle is one of the HARDEST poems to write. So to tackle not only a difficult form but also a difficult topic … I give you and your poem 12 gold stars. Amazing. I feel you on your mother’s absence. Sometimes I tell myself that if my mom were still alive I wouldn’t be going through all this. It’s stupid, but moms are supposed to soothe our pains and fix our problems no matter what. It just stinks to be without a mom right now. A big hug.

    • Big hug to you, too. It sucks not to have a mommy to soothe our pain. And when we do have a baby, I think it’s going to hurt even more. I’m glad you liked the poem. 🙂

  8. This is fantastic, to me. Have been ruminating over this villanelle business, so to see how you have constructed it (and relating to the subject matter also – double whammy!) I have a massive appreciation for your work there!

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