I never knew your last name

Benjamin wanted you more

than he ever wanted me

for your madeline face and framing water fall

of black hair


as thin as if you only ate thought

your knees could not hold together you

came apart like a dearticulate doll

everyone felt so sorry for your ragged sorrow

though no one knew why

looking perpetually like you would cry

a Picasso blue girl of faraway gaze


if I had not envied you the heart of a boy

who had bewitched my own, or felt your ability

to balance upside down on monkey bars

making you superior in the rules of horse chestnuts and marbles

I may have seen the threadbare grief in your eyes

how from the hollows came the cry

it is apparent now in a way a child refuses

blowing her rage with swollen cheeks

as if temper lost her place in a world of shut doors

why wasn’t I kinder to you?

why did I try to compete when all you wanted

was respite from the terror of being


31 thoughts on “Joanna

  1. It’s funny how kids kind of ‘know’ things about other kids intuitively. Even if we aren’t always as nice as we could be because our compassion skills aren’t honed yet. But here you are, years later, still thinking about this child, feeling that compassion and caring so many years later. Let’s hope she feels it in some way and that she got some in her life, for who knows what made her suffer the way you describe. Only families know the terrors that go on within them…and the children carry the monsters around like weights. ❤

  2. VERY true. I believe kids have a very uncanny almost predatorial notion of other kids, it’s disturbing and can be both a good and bad thing! Intuitively as you say. Very true, compassion is honed, it’s not something you learn automatically and yes, I am the queen of thinking of things for a very long time! ha ha! I expect she grew up to be beautiful and talented, or at least I hope so. Yes so true, only families know the terrors that go on within them, and children carry monsters around like weights (i’m repeating your words because I agree and they are so beautiful like a poem!)

  3. I think we all have those regrets of things left undone and unsaid, kindnesses not bestowed or offered, ungrateful or jealous thoughts sending daggers into others’ hearts and souls – children can be so cruel and yet so kind

  4. Oh, very, VERY well done! You told an entire (heartbreaking) story with a few lines. You’re gonna get tired of me saying it but I felt it (the whole children and their emotions and terrors always kills me…I wonder why)

  5. This lovely poem brought back to me all those petty childhood jealousies and shallow mis-judgements. I remembered Diane who I disliked because I suspected her hair may be ncer than mine, and she got more birthday cards than me… I dispised Bernard because he smelled of stale urine… I avoided Graham because everyone else did, and I didn’t want to be called names for talking to him… the list goes on.
    Fortunately some of us live and learn.

  6. So lovely to see you here again Jane, and I hope you are doing okay. I knew you would get this, I think we share that in common and I love your writing and the way you think. You are so right, we live and learn. (Or we should!). xo

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