Like you, I am always nervous when share my work, especially poems. I am still learning to trust myself as a poet. I wrote a version of this poem last summer when I attended The Conference on Poetry and Teaching at The Frost Place last summer in Franconia, NH. I shared it at a poetry reading the last night of the conference. Now, that was nerve wracking.
Today, I did a bit more with revision, and I like this version of my poem better. Please read it and leave a comment.
I believe in heaven and hell
although hell seems easier to believe in. I believe
writing is the key to knowledge
carved with paper and pen. I believe peanut M&Ms
are good for stress. I believe I am a petite
in a full-sized dress,
which does not make me weak, indulgent, brazen, or fat.
I believe “Mother” is the greatest name
on the planet; I believe my hands
have the power to heal although words may
soothe wounds much swifter. I believe in
sleeping, I believe in email, I believe in knock on wood, we
make our own luck,
and if I finally have the perfect hair day —
dang the rain. Not because I am vain, but
because life is sometimes a pain.
I believe in pain: wrecked bikes, kidney stones,
crying — push, push, push, wah, wah.
I believe in the wrapped up hugs
of my friend Kenny. I’ve been wrapped up in
myself more than once, and it’s a good idea
not to nurture those notions. Holding grandbabies
is a blessing of the good life,
unless they live too far away.
I believe in God, and if you allow me to love
you and teach you to write, I’ll be sure to
help you reach high. How high do you want?
Do you believe in hope? I believe the day
my mother died her mom and dad
were there to meet her, and
when I felt her squeeze my shoulder
from an earthlife away, I knew
the spirit goes on living. We never got to say goodbye.
The disease robbed much more than her words.
I believe that’s why I have this ache in my heart:
Sometimes it’s a chilling breeze. Sometimes it’s a tornado.
I believe I will miss my mother
every day of my life. I believe that holy scripture
is the best kind of poetry. I believe good teachers
plan, great teachers inspire, and if I’d only stop
trying to control everything I’d need less massage. I believe
fathers should be present. I believe plants make better
presents than flowers. I believe milk should be pink on
Valentine’s Day, and “There’s a right way to live and
be happy.” Cowboy Stadium could have bought a
billion books for classroom libraries, and the best frozen custard
is in St. Louis. I believe in action movies,
White Christmas –caring, sharing, every little thing that we are wearing–
Reading Makes You Smarter, and writing well can
change your life. Literacy opens doors that life locks
tight. I believe if students will take the time they can
turn keys and beat odds. I believe in odds, underdogs,
and family-owned restaurants, I believe that Jesus Christ
saves and that if you hold His hand He makes
everything easier, and if you touch me
right here, right here at my heart, you’ll fill the
longing of a daughter and the yearning of a mom.