RSS Feed

ReadWritePoem #117

.

This poem is written in response to prompt #117 on ReadWritePoem: combine a passage about grief with an unrelated passage about theft (in this poem, the two passages are closely related). I have my husband’s consent to publish this poem. This scene is slightly fictionalized; for details, see the Writer’s Statement as the first comment. This version of the poem benefits from the feedback of first readers RL, JG, and JH.
.
.
.
…………………………STEALING AWAY
.
…………………………The funeral for your old friend is as hard
…………………………as any I can remember —  a wet morning,
…………………………a widow standing beside two brave sons,
…………………………and dozens of visitors filing past the casket.
…………………………Afterwards in the car, I ask you to take me
…………………………on the long route home, to drive ten extra miles
…………………………down Columbia Turnpike and Hays Road
…………………………to the small brick house I had known as a girl,
…………………………to the driveway where a quiet ambulance
…………………………had opened its doors twenty-eight years before.
…………………………You stop the car near the front lawn and I
…………………………weep and weep, crying in memory of my
…………………………father’s long illness, of the years it had stolen
…………………………from me, and of what I’ve just stolen from you:
…………………………one day of grief to claim as all your own,
…………………………with a strong abiding woman by your side.

.

.

…………………………by Therese L. Broderick

.

.

.

About ThereseLBroderick

Independent community poet living in Albany, New York USA.

19 responses »

  1. WRITER’S STATEMENT

    This poem contains both autobiographical fact, and some fictionalizing for the sake of clarity.
    FACTS — My husband and I attended a funeral in late 2009, and then we drove to the street I grew up on, to the house I once lived in. The names of the streets are real. The house is part brick. My father died in 1981. Yes, I wish I were a stronger person for my husband. I remember the funeral day as being “wet” although I’m not sure. FICTIONS — The friend who died was an “old” friend only in the sense that he was such a wonderful person that he might as well have been a dear friend of many years. When he died, he was middle-aged and his sons were young men. In truth, I was the one driving the car, but the poem’s scene became less clumsy to write about if I put my husband in the driver’s seat. The “ten miles” is an estimate, not exact.

    FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE — I realize that this poem offers not even one example of figurative language. Its poetic elements are otherwise: deliberate line breaks such as “take me/” (stealing away); thematic complexity (“as any I can remember” related to later memory); turns (shift in poem in last two lines); imagery (specific visual descriptions).
    .

  2. Beautifully expressed, Therese. Brought me home, too, and reminded me of Mary Beth’s funeral. Your poetry often feels very personal to me, as though I was there, perhaps because sometimes I was, peripherally. The last lines of your poem illuminate so well that selfish feeling one has when grieving the “wrong” person at a funeral, or feeling that your grief is no match for the grief of others who were closer to the deceased. Again, sad and beautiful.

  3. Therese.
    Very beautiful and personal. The imagery is wonderful.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Pamela

  4. I loved how you pointed out that you compounded the grief of the funeral by feeling that you stole from its honor by … almost like indulging and older grief. I really liked this one, thanks.

  5. This piece travels along through grief of all types, from mourning the loss of loved ones to the loss of years. As usual, I am so amazed by what you do.

  6. This is a very tight, well-structured poem with a lot of emotion packed into it! I really enjoyed reading it.

  7. Full of emotion and great use of words. The imagery was excellent.

  8. Hi Therese,

    A good poem. I too noted your grief for the lost years. One can resent such a thing and then feel guilt about the resentment. Funerals stir so many memories and emotions.

  9. Beautiful and moving, Therese!

    I love the way you use the metaphor of life events stealing years from people and the metaphor of stealing from your husband the poem’s day of grief as his own. And these stealing metaphors are pulled together amazingly in the title, which so strongly echoes the Spiritual “Steal Away,” which is about death – or more precisely, about slipping away from the pain of life to the comfort of an afterlife with Jesus.

    The result is a richly textured presentation of life giving to and stealing from us and death stealing from and giving to us. The warp and woof of life and death, calling to mind the problematic words from the book of Job about the Lord giving and taking away, words taken literally by many but not quite so literally in the text…

    I love the self-awareness embedded in this poem, Therese. Very strong.

  10. Your poem takes the reader right there – right THERE…we are on the front lawn, we are weeping…

    and I have to wonder about a world that believes grief is ever best experienced in aloneness. Yes, the fact is in loss we are alone… as the woman weeping on the lawn is at bare bones, alone and yet… the world is served by grieving, fully, with witnesses… with someone to cry alongside, to pass the salty handkerchief.

    Perhaps I am alone in this perspective. I don’t know.

    Your poem is so evocative, Therese. Thank you.

  11. I am struck by the compact structure within which your lines of grief are contained.

  12. I love the way this tells a story and the interaction between the narrator and the person she is speaking with. There’s so much more here than if we were learning about only the narrator.

    Thanks for a great, short trip!

  13. Factual or not, the emotion is honest. Grief can loosen the tight rein we put on time, and merge past and present.
    We’re seldom as unselfish as we wish to think ourselves, either.
    Beautifully done.

  14. The idea of stealing his grief is incredibly clever, a theft most wouldn’t want but often take. How often when someone dies do we (human, human) try to make the grief our own?

  15. As everyone else has said, this is powerfully moving… you bring the scenes to life. Grief reminds of other griefs; I hope there’s no shame underneath this poem, because there shouldn’t need to be.

  16. Beautiful poem, Therese. Since I live in Rennselaer County, I liked the specific details and road names – I could picture the beautiful rolling terrain.

    The twist about theft at the end was intriguing but I was a little puzzled by the last line – your explanation helped. Powerfully moving, overall.

  17. A powerful poem. Grief (and shades thereof) does strange things to the people it touches. Wonderfully expressive.

  18. There is a definite sense of immediacy in this piece, plus you show us a side of grief that many don’t talk about — the feeling of having been selfish to grieve one’s self while another has experienced lost. I Also like how you use the title and connect it to two different sense of stealing away — first, the death of your loved one, and your guilt for stealing away “a day of grief”. Well done.

  19. Excellent poem.It needed to be compact and brief to convey the enormity of the selfish act and resulting shame.Probably your best poem so far.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: