Letting Go

My mouth knows the words
and frames them in gilt cursive,
ornate and twisted with false pretty
I don’t own, sweet phrases blooming
on pink greeting cards I never buy,
because I have truth to speak
that is  simple, unflowered
and natural as breath.  These words
are not my own and said only
because they must be said:

It’s okay to go.

I mean it, too.  She’s leaving
with or without my permission,
but it’s something they say she’s waiting for
so I say it, my lips ignoring grief
big as a term fetus and tear-fed
kicking and unborn
under the solar plexus,
and deeper fear unthroated
that budded the first time
I got lost in the grocery store,
or the day she forgot my name.

It was losing, but in degrees
and hard to let happen, when hers
were the fingers I grasped first, reflexive;
before I learned the language of trust,
the sting of resentment.

How do you let go
of the one who held you first
and knew you longest?

We don’t, we can’t.
We loose spirit from flesh
only to hold it gently forever.

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?
This entry was posted in New Free Verse and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

76 Responses to Letting Go

  1. “twisted with false pretty” is a very cool line!

  2. claudia says:

    tears…losing in degrees..the hardest part for me was when she forgot your name..oh susan…yes..we don’t… we can’t… big hugs your way..

  3. brian miller says:

    dang…moving…what a touching ending as well..how do we let go those that held us first…made me think on the death of my MIL…a hard hard time…and still we carry her in small ways with us….

  4. Alice Keys says:

    I am very nearly at a loss for words, this is so beautiful and resonates so deeply with me. I thought I should let you know.

  5. Mary says:

    Oh, this is such a hard one. It is so hard to give someone one loves permission to ‘go.’ I learned from a young woman who worked in a nursing home, however, the importance of doing that…..of saying ‘it’s okay’ even though your heart is breaking! A poignant gut-level poem well done.

  6. Its okay to let go ~ the line that gives and inspires trust, specially at death bed ~ lovely write Susan ~

  7. So beautiful, so sad, heartwrenching..made tears come to my eyes and a deep empathy emerge for you and your loss..you say it all in this poem, so perfectly, wondrously accomplished! 🙂

  8. cloudfactor5 says:

    Susan, this is eloquently written and very calming for me as I wrote about Alzheimer’s also! The day my own father didn’t recognize me, sliced me wide open !
    “How do you let go
    of the one who held you first
    and knew you longest?” Do questions come any tougher than this?
    I especially love the ending and will now gently hold my fathers memory forever!!

  9. unfetteredbs says:

    “deeper fear unthroated” — your words gave me my own lump in my throat Susan. I think this is magnificent. I read it through twice to fully grasp your words and heavy emotions. Wonderfully done. Sad and true..and oh so difficult.

  10. Ruth says:

    wow, this is just amazing writing… and double-wow to this:

    “my lips ignoring grief
    big as a term fetus and tear-fed
    kicking and unborn
    under the solar plexus”

    in terms of the writing. but i think i know something of the underlying story… or my own version of it, where i had to let my mother go this past summer (& yes, she was going anyway, it was for me i needed to let her do so – & that, i think, is a mother’s love)

    & whether there’s any similarity between your meaning & what your poem brought up for me, i thank you for it

  11. atlasivy says:


    I hope you’re doing alright.

  12. nelle says:

    One of my favourites.

  13. Dana says:

    I feel the grief in this poem. This one must have been difficult.

  14. myrthryn says:

    This is beautifully written, Susan.

    ” gilt cursive, ornate and twisted pretty” excellent phrase!

  15. Tragic, poignant, touching ~ understand why it was so moving to write xx

  16. Dewey Dirks says:

    Written from the heart. Very good ink

  17. deanabo says:

    This is really good writing

  18. Wow. I love your final stanza here about how we cannot let go of some things. Something’s are literally woven into our being and its better to hold on to the memory rather than rip it from us. Beautifully written. This was a truly emotional piece to read

  19. heidi says:

    This is beautiful. I felt ripped at inside while reading it. Lovely writing.

  20. ManicDdaily says:

    Very strong beginning (middle and end too.) But so hard to make one’s self fit into all these losses and terrible phases of life. Thanks. k.

  21. Your poem is beautiful. My heart broke reading this. Hopefully good memories help with the healing.

  22. J Cosmo Newbery says:

    Gentle. Wistful. Clearly heartfelt.

  23. U brought to mind Spener, Rothke and Ignatow! Grandiose Susan !

  24. Sadly beautiful, Susan. We know what you mean. This is the hardest of all letting-goes.

  25. SallyJ says:

    Too painful to read without holding my breath…beautifully written, especially poignant end lines.

  26. Laurie Kolp says:

    Beautifully moving, sad.

  27. Thank you for putting your words to our pain. Sometimes we need the poet’s words to express what we feel. This was raw and beautiful.

  28. My father passed away in the last days of January 5 years ago now. And when this part of the yearly calendar slips by I feel the grief bubble up, and miss his being. How do you let go? You don’t. You hold the memory close and share the stories – keeping alive what is most treasured.

  29. Sabio Lantz says:

    A tough, painful loss — well captured.

  30. lucychili says:

    i can feel this.

  31. Susan says:

    “We don’t, we can’t.
    We loose spirit from flesh
    only to hold it gently forever.”

    And that’s the magic, hard learned. My grandmother is with me now, and no longer feels pain. But that might be easier than letting go while the loved one is still living, still mine. This poem is fabulously truthful–more than is possible in words alone.

  32. How do you let go
    of the one who held you first
    and knew you longest?

    Oh Susan, i travelled a long distance to see my father’s sisters and brothers to prepare for his funeral and when I saw them I was so overwhelmed I wept. I remembered him and my time with his familiy years back and I could not hold back.

    Your words are poignantly beautiful, tearing at my heart. Thank you for making me see that I can never let go of my father’s memory.

    My sincerest best wishes 🙂

  33. janehewey says:

    from sweet cards to strong fetus and fingers grasped –you keep this grounded in experience and then weave it all together with pure heart aching beauty. love it!

  34. George Ellington says:

    Since I arrived here in this community, Susan, your voice has so keenly captured the pulses of the heart, whether you write of love or longing or nature or playful abandon. But when you write of this–whenever you write of this–I feel my heart breaking. Again.

  35. J.H. White says:

    My reward for digging deeper into your writings. Thank you. This poem is now a part of me.

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