a voice and a name

before I found my voice
ink bled through my skin
and I stored pages of it under my bed;
not so much poetry as hummed song–
some in high-school French or Spanish,
mercifully lost now, but somehow less cloying
than the love letters my sister wrote to herself
that I found later
in the back of her Social Studies spiral notebook

I learned early to be secret with writing
after my mother read the journal
I left on my nightstand.  We were the same flesh, still,
in her eyes; though I walked and thought
independent of her and free of that cord,
she was not the one that cut it, and I would not either,

until later, when I would get paid for reading
in public, the day she asked me to use a pseudonym
because she found my words too strong,
too radical, too sexual to have Daniels associated with them.
She never mentioned it again after I agreed,
saying I would use her name instead of my own
if she thought we were still one person.

About Susan L Daniels

I am a firm believer that politics are personal, that faith is expressed through action, and that life is something that must be loved and lived authentically--or why bother with any of it?
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26 Responses to a voice and a name

  1. davidtrudel says:

    You found your voice and it’s strong
    Insightful, wise, perceptive
    Worthy of of proclaiming
    This is me

  2. Bruce Ruston says:

    Really enjoying your wit today Susan inspired write

  3. Green Speck says:

    A very nice poem … associated with memory !!!

  4. ~Lady Day says:

    Wow. An interesting window into this poets birth. Thank you for sharing. I loved it.

  5. doncarroll says:

    loved this one susan. anyone that isn’t a writer can’t really understand the need to convey with such force that it makes them uncomfortable. this certainly lays down how things got started with the word. that ending really was good:)

    • thanks–we really did have that discussion once on the phone. Probably would not have suggested that particular pseudonym unless I had a good running start of at least 10 miles 😉

  6. nelle says:

    Wow. So much to digest here, and that’s just in the reading. The experience, i cannot fathom. It takes courage to write in open space, more still to write in open space about such experiences. I made a promise never to write about the whole of mine, so I content with innocuous, and too often unflattering, snippets. Well done.

  7. Following you now – impressive stuff. Read some writer the other day who said you have to write as if your parents were dead, even if they’re not. Harsh, but fair.

  8. The making of a poet 🙂

  9. George Ellington says:

    Oh how often your words, your experiences, cause my heart to shudder, Susan. Thank you for sharing so much of you and your life with us, and for writing it all so beautifully.

  10. Jeremy Nathan Marks says:

    This is very meaningful. It makes me think about the nature of the bonds we have with our parents. I know that with my own, there are gaps that exist because of my own radicalism.

    I would love to hear more about this in your poetry; you write of it so beautifully.

    • Wow–thanks much. There definitely were gaps in our bond that eventually we came to overlook in our loving of each other. Definitely worth exploring these further, as they come to me, so I am glad you liked.

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