He was with me
in the sunlight pressing blocks
into carpet, heat kissing the tips
of his black shoes shiny while I played
the shoelace game
with my small fingers
always unraveling
his knots–

and then
he wasn’t there,
but dead,
a new word for me

meaning that grandfather
eased out of his skin
and left it empty,
the way cicadas do
when they outgrow it,
escaping that too tight feeling
to spread wings.

Before then, I thought
you climbed those steps to heaven
wearing your skin
all the way to God;

not leaving a husk
like something breathed out of it,
not that naked.

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.

54 Responses to (a)Wake

  1. annotating60 says:

    Good one Susan. Loved the cicada metaphor.>KB

  2. Mary says:

    Whew, thinking about grandfather easing out of his skin and leaving it empty…..perhaps this is as good a way as any for a child’s understanding. Loved the metaphor.

  3. The childs view… beautiful Susan.. amazing metaphor.. and if I could ever capture the strange thoughts I had. The playing with shoelaces became heartbreaking when reading it a second time.

  4. This is such a perfect example of remembering that first experience of death. The details about the shoestring game followed by the stark reality of absence. So powerful and, I should guess, cathartic.

  5. Great title and I love the cicada reference. Isn’t it interesting the questions that come to mind when we first experience death.

  6. grapeling says:

    evocative, vivid tropes, Susan – strong pen

  7. howanxious says:

    Wow… so full of childhood wonder and the stark reality of death. Great write.

  8. nico says:

    All good–those last two stanzas, though, stand out like a model of perfection. “Wearing your skin”–what a perfectly rendered line!

  9. Perfect metaphors that inject into our subconscious.

    Excellent! work.

    P.S I posted a poem yesterday if you want to check it out. πŸ™‚

  10. I think that this is a very cool poem. I like the cicada comparison. I just like the whole thing, what you say and how it flows. Death not easy to write about, you have written about really well. You tell a story and I like it.

  11. Laurie Kolp says:

    Now this is intense. I especially like the cicada stanza… a perfect explanation for a child.

  12. brian miller says:

    i lost both of my grandfathers by the time i was ten…both of their deaths were very impactful in my life…and i have wondered at what it would be like if they were still there you know….they were some of my first tangles with death and loss…

  13. The metaphor works and the simplicity of language together to create an indelible image of a child’s loss that can’t be restored or forgotten. Beautiful.

  14. adamsmurphy says:

    Its rather surreal…

  15. Maggie Grace says:

    Your writing from your child thoughts makes this so very powerful and sad.

  16. shanyns says:

    Oh very good. Very very good.

  17. MarinaSofia says:

    You really stepped back into a child’s mindset there – an amazing analogy and a very novel way of looking at death.

  18. Alice Keys says:

    This has the vivid vision, sounds and smell of a young memory and the way we think of things before we’re taught the cultural linear verbal “right” way to think about things. This sense of intimate and direct experience makes your poem an exquisite enjoyment for me.

  19. clawfish says:

    powerful and very moving resonant with another’s life

  20. wow Susan –> “meaning that grandfather
    eased out of his skin
    and left it empty,
    the way cicadas do
    when they outgrow it,”

  21. Yes, this is how it is. When my grandad died I couldn’t drag my eyes away from the coffin, thinking of his husk inside. So descriptive, your poem.

  22. It really seems to me that you speak from experience. The writing is just really raw and full of emotion that I have to wonder if anything’s happened that could elicit such. Nonetheless, the poem was beautiful and it made me rethink the way I treat others.:)

  23. nelle says:

    😦 Poignant.

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