Sunday, November 11, 2007

"Hell if I Know" Poetry Challenge

I've blogged many times about the poetry community I participate and moderate in, Wild Poetry Forum. It had become a haven and a rich source of inspiration for me over the years. One of the things I appreciate most about Wild is the supportive, honest, and non-competitive atmosphere that exists there.

M, our administrator per excellence, posts weekly challenges. Many weeks, I don't have the time to participate, but when I do, I always find she has helped nudge me out of my comfort zone.

This is a first draft of this week's challenge: "Hell if I Know" in which we were invited to write a poem about something we did not know.

I am an adoptee, adopted into a loving, supportive family when I was only a few days old. Yet, no matter how much I feel I belong with my family, not knowing who I might have been has always had a pull on me. I won't get into any debates here about the merits of open adoption or the rights or wrongs about establishing contact with a birth family. My need and my decision was to reach out and let them know I had (and have) a wonderful life. The event that inspired this piece happened years ago, but I have not ever written about it until now.

Lost in the Dead Letter Office

If I knew that you were dead
I could let go of the feeling that your letter
waits, nestled amongst offers to refinance
my mortgage, credit card pre-approvals,
and sweepstakes notifications. You may
have already won. I did win. I tried
to tell you in a phone call that took thirty
years to dial. The woman on the line
wasn't you. I pray you did not turn
into her, suspicious crone. She would have
been my grandmother except she feared
more than she could love. It's not hard
to feel sorry for that from three
thousand miles away. I doubt
she ever told you I called and now,
at sixty-three, you could be dead.
I'll never know when to stop
checking the mailbox.

--ljcohen, 2007

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