Looking at Our World Through Poetry: My Son – Talk to Me
My son, my heart aches for you.
I feel your pain
I see your anger
I hear your arguments
But, I don’t know how to reach you.
I would give my life for you,
But you have shut me out;
Shut me out so far,
That a stone wall stands
Between us -
An impenetrable barrier
Across which, only the faint echoes
Of our voices are sometimes heard.
You come to our home,
We hope that it will be
Different this time -
Different, for you
And, yes, different for us, too.
Sometimes you act so defiantly
That we wish you would stay away,
Although we love you.
And then, we immediately feel guilty
That we, as parents, even had that thought;
That we, for the briefest moment,
In the Hope for Peace and Joy
For the rest of the family,
We would even dare to hope
That, perhaps, you may not come, this time.
It is a time of Joyous Celebration.
All the family have gathered.
They exchange ideas and information
About life events -
Events that have happened to each of them,
Since last we met.
You enter the house;
I hear your distinctive footsteps
In the foyer.
How many times, have I lingered,
In the phase between wakefulness and sleep,
Listening for the steps of you whom I love,
But you, whom I cannot reach.
Tonight, I notice the conversation quieting;
It seems as if the very house itself
Awaits, with bated breath,
To assess your mood.
And I, too, wait,
Afraid that you will spoil this event,
Like you have so many others.
Will you be depressed tonight?
Will you fight with your brothers
And with your sister?
I wonder, do you ever stop to think
How much you’ve hurt her
And the other boys;
And yes, your father and me, too?
Or are you shut within the hardened shell
Of your enclosed Capsule of Self,
Waiting to strike out, yet once again?
Perhaps, you’ll be happy tonight.
It’s been so long since I’ve seen
A look of joy on your face;
Not since your sixth birthday,
When your father and I
Gave you that special game you wanted.
There was just a brief flicker
Of pure unadulterated delight;
And then you went inward.
You became lost in the game,
In its intricacies and bypaths,
And we were shut out, once again.
Will you be angry tonight?
Will you pour forth your special brand
Of convoluted rhetoric -
Rhetoric that confuses
Your brothers and sister,
And us too -
Rhetoric that pushes us all
So far away from you?
You always seem to take
An opposing view.
Sometimes, I think you argue
For the sake of being different
The rest of us,
Including me, your mother – we just shut up,
Stilled by the force of your anger.
Son, I’m afraid of you!
Son, I don’t understand you.
Sometimes, I think that your intelligence
Is far superior to ours;
That, perhaps, we cannot grasp the concepts,
You so forcefully put forward;
But then, as I listen, more and more carefully,
I notice that you contradict yourself;
That you become lost in the clouds
Of your own conflicting thoughts.
My beloved son,
I’m afraid to confront you;
I’m afraid to contradict you;
I’m afraid to tell you to be quiet,
So that others may speak.
Son, do you realize
That nobody really talks to you anymore?
That you hold the floor,
But not our attention?
Do you know that you spoil
With your anger and unwillingness
To allow anyone else in the family
Or in the world, it seems,
To have a point of view,
That is different from yours?
Son, I know that your anger
Is merely a cover for your pain.
I know that all you see, in your life,
And in your family’s life,
Are the negatives.
I know you find no joy anywhere.
Son, my beloved son,
I know that you are hurting,
But I don’t know what to do
To help you.
Where have we failed you?
Where have I failed you?
I want to reach out my hand
To touch your trembling hand,
But I don’t have the courage.
I don’t know how to reach that far.
I’m afraid that you’ll
Reject my offered hand;
And what will happen to you then?
What will happen to us, then?
Son, I want to speak out;
I want to reach you
With my words.
But I don’t know the words
That will breach the distance
That has developed between us;
I don’t know the Language of Love
That would form a bond of communication.
I don’t know how
To navigate the vast spaces
That have been created between us.
I’m afraid, if I say anything,
I’ll push you even further away.
Son, my beloved son, I have failed you;
I should know how to reach
Your wounded heart,
But I don’t know how.
Son, if I try,
Will you help me,
To help you?
And to help us,
To become Mother and Son?
To have a loving, Mother and Son relationship?
Perhaps, you will want
To join our family
In a way that is truly connective;
In a way
Where each member
Treats the other,
With mutual respect?
Son, tell me your story,
Tell me, who hurt you?
Was it me?
Son, I’m here.
I love you.
Betty R. Stockley