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I Never Wanted You to Know

You cooed as I held you. You didn’t know
how twisted hearts would bemoan your presence,
rueing that your baby smile, sweet, did glow,
that we hovered and breathed in your fragrance.
You played as you grew, toddling past strangers,
open, curious to see their faces
not seeing that some scowled at the dangers
of brown-skinned children, other-skinned races.
This nonsense rose in twisted minds, cruel.
And discourse raised their voices to explain
what came not from reason, but from fuel
poured over them to perpetuate pain.
Absorbing hate, ignited with belief,
they disregarded your beauty, my grief.

This was written for the 100 word Challenge for Grown Ups – Week #38. This week we were told to write a sonnet that had to have fourteen lines with a limit somewhere around 100 words, and some allowances because of the form. I didn’t feel comfortable with it and should have chosen another of the forms, but I do think that I challenged myself. Please feel free to be honest if you don’t think this reads well.

As for the subject, I wrote this about the strangeness I noticed when my daughter was a baby. I was always shocked when someone scowled at her.


42 thoughts on “I Never Wanted You to Know

  1. Hi Ré. I think it’s great that you challenged yourself so much. You got the right number of lines, the right rhyming scheme, the right number of syllables AND you got so close to 100 words. The rest of us managed *some* of the criteria but you got every single one – that’s a real achievement!

    The subject matter is really sad. It’s shocking that anyone gets treated differently because of the colour of their skin, but to do this to an innocent child is heartbreaking.

  2. I can’t imagine scowling at that sweet face! Unless she was constantly tantrumy… I’ve scowled at the most adorable red-faced-shrieking-hellion in that situation. I thought the piece worked quite well, like a letter in a sonnet.

    • Thanks. I’m glad it worked well for you.

      She was never tantrumy or loud out in public (she saved that for home 😦 ), and I didn’t let her run up and touch people. It was mostly those racists who scowled at her when she was so small and not bothering anybody.

  3. I thought the form worked perfectly, Sparks. The rhythm of it was enjoyable, in my mind. Good treatment of the topic as well. It never dawned on me that there is probably a “point” in someone’s life when they become aware of racism – that must be devastating.

  4. How could anyone look at that sweet little face and be less than completely delighted? The world is a strange and disappointing place sometimes.

    Very powerful work, Re.

  5. This doesn’t just speak to the love of a parent protecting a child from an impossibly cruel world, it speaks to the helplessness against racism. I’d like to think things have changed as she’s grown, that fewer and fewer people will scowl at your grandchildren merely for the color of their skin. (Dear GOD how could anybody frown at that beautiful baby up there????).

    The thing that kills me about sonnetts is the iambic pentameter. By the time I’m through, it’s not just the syllables that are incorrectly stressed!!!

  6. Stupid wordpress. Ate my comment.

    This speaks not only to the love of your child, but to the helplessness a parent feels when trying to shelter that baby from something impossible. I’d like to think things have changed as your daughter has grown, and that fewer people will scowl at your grandchildren. (And who could frown at that baby??? That innocent look of surprise and wonder??? I flirt with babies this expressive just to get those darling smiles out of them.)

    The thing that kills me about sonnetts is the iambic pentameter. By the end, it isn’t only the words that have inappropriate stresses.

    • This time it didn’t. I’m not sure why, but WordPress doesn’t recognize you even though you’ve commented here many times already. I have to approve yours most of the time. (Most of me likes WordPress, but it’s still bugging me with its quirks.)

      Thank you so much for trying again.

  7. What a beautiful post for your beautiful daughter. The world can be an ugly place at times.
    You’ve written something very special. Thankyou for having the courage to share it. And shame upon those scowlers.

  8. Honestly, this is my favorite of all the things I’ve read of yours to date. Your other writings also bravely delve into emotions and show them, but this piece, for me, just resonates. I’m trying to think why (rhythm comes to mind, as we talked about recently) but it’s so much more than placement or choice of words. I think it’s because you have touched on something that I have had much less exposure to, and yet, you have made this so real for me that it hurts. It breaks my heart to think people are this way even though I know they are. Sometimes the reality of life is too much and I have to retreat to the woods or to books I read as a child. The other thing that touches me is the photo because in spite of it all, there is unbridled joy in your daughter’s eyes, and you can see she knows she is loved by those who matter. Thank you for a piece that made me think.

  9. This is spectacular. I love sonnets, writing and reading both, and this was beautifully done. I think your image of “ignited with belief” is one of the most vivid images I’ve ever seen for a strong but irrational point of view. The image of the belief taking over, burning up, destroying, disfiguring and obscuring the person who feeds their own flames – it’s a great description of a tragic reality. She’s lucky to have you!

  10. How could anyone scowl at that beautiful face? She was an adorable baby; and from the pictures I saw of the two of you on here a few months back, she’s a gorgeous young woman. Great poem. 🙂

  11. This is so much more than an entry for a weekly meme. his is heart-felt writing at it’s best with such a powerful social message. I’m so glad you did challenge yourself because we have reaped the benefit of it. Thank you so very much for such a stunning piece.

  12. Very spot-on. I could not believe I understood the words “how twisted hearts would bemoan your presence,rueing that your baby smile, sweet, did glow,”…I re-read it as my thoughts went to “unplanned pregnancy? physical challenges?” but the idea of racism in today’s world is so honest and so removed from my thinking…and yet I wonder if a baby sometimes brings out the judgmental-ism in us more quickly as we can get past the child and head to other’s decisions that we would control if only we could…our own fears coming to fore as we look for ways to ‘perfect’ our understanding of the world. You did an excellent job provoking thoughtful pathways and charming images. Thank you for posting. 🙂

    • Thanks for reading it, Anna. It’s hard for me to write about racism, but the subject has been slamming me in the face for a while. Now I understand why I’ve mostly been avoiding it in my writing. I need to be in a stronger personal place before I let that monster move around in my writer’s mind.

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