Sonnet for my absent son

Song of My Son: Song of My Self

Paternal as I long to be—distance

Erodes memory. How long since I held,

Desperate, clinging infant you? Beheld

Alive your eyes, my eyes. Our insistence,

Not from love’s lack, but in the persistence

That hope demands for better . . . Could love weld

Hearts together? No. Neither could love meld

Alive our strange insanities—penance

Left us only one choice: your adoption,

For your mother and I were oil and flame—

But either no fault the other should claim

Lest karma strike fatal conflagration!

Utter love and contempt as fire we shared

Despite paradox wishes—We ran scared.

                  David M Pitchford
                  19 October 2007

I wrote this just now as part of a sequence that goes with my fourth novel. The sonnets obscure clues the characters are desperate to solve, as it is the only way to retrieve the paternal character from a magic mirror. One of the characters is based on a son I and his mother gave up for adoption some years ago. Sometimes poetry can help us work through tough spots, even if their encysted memories that catch in throats with cat claws and rend our hearts until tears flow from sources deeper than life . . .

10 thoughts on “Sonnet for my absent son

  1. This is a powerful poem, even without knowing the circumstance as I do. You are gifted – with words, wit and perhaps even some wisdom ;^)

  2. Yeah. It all comes with experience. And deliberate insight filtered by reasonably objective critique of said experience.
    Pain is the soul’s message that the heart needs cleansing. Joy is the hearts message to the soul that it feels grattitude.

    Aches are just a sign of aging and poor habit control . . . Love yourself! It will love you back!

  3. My shoulders dropped with the feeling of heaviness, a sort of burden I felt, as I read this. I agree with what you said in your comment- “pain is…..feels gratitude”

  4. I know of this pain here expressed powerfully in this poem. “Pain is the soul’s message that the heart needs cleansing. Joy is the hearts message to the soul that it feels gratitude.”
    Yes. And, deeply felt, at that.

  5. Thank you so much for your comments. This is a very special poem for me. Not that all aren’t, but this one really stands out. I’m very touched . . . I am grateful that others are touched by it and find something beautiful there. The world can use more beauty – and more people to appreciate it.

  6. I can truly understand why this is a very special poem for you. I almost went through this myself. It was the hardest 3 days of my life. I decided to go it alone and have no regrets. I was blessed, and he’s done me proud:

    There is nothing to compare the pain and mental aerobics one goes through during this time. Nothing. You have written an exquisite testimony of the love and decision to always honor the memory of your son by writing this beautiful, heart-felt sonnet. Like you, I believe poetry can be the catharsis for healing the wounds to the soul and emptiness in our hearts. Writing things down in a journal, creating poetry and the like can take the power away from debilitating, destructive emotions that control us when we’re vulnerable from hurt, horror and pain. Sorry for rambling, but I just want you to know that I know of what you write so eloquently, my friend.

  7. Here’s some backstory on my decision and breaking cycles . . .

    Looking back thirty years, I turn to ash;
    not salt like Lot’s wife, just ash. That childhood
    was not to be looked back upon, white trash
    with Bible in hand . . . oh, yeah, preached it good,
    didn’t you? “Turn the other cheek!” But God
    never deigned to speak to us, thine, or thee!
    At some age, I learned your lie—spare the rod . . .
    I swore you off, but you never left me.

    Those memories of parental love, lash,
    and angry words cruel as knives. Now what should
    we treasure from that wrecked ship? The mish-mash
    of infrequent daytrips to fish what could
    be pulled out of Woe’s broad river. What broad
    umbrella of grace might catch that rain? Three
    his, we two yours, and seven for hell’s sod.
    I swore sorrow off—it never left me . . .

    to any sort of lasting peace. The crash
    and wail, the dance and scream, leather or wood
    in the hand of a madwoman, you . . . smash
    it down with fiend-fired eyes and rage withstood
    by flesh while souls splintered—this is the GOD
    you taught your five charges. But we could see
    behind lies’ curtain—knew its and your fraud
    I forgave you then; this never leaves me

    absolved, though I pray it gone. So, how would
    we know? At ten then, now at forty, free
    as any sinner in hell. At manhood
    I swore you off, but you never left me.

    David M Pitchford
    19 November 2007

  8. O, my. Reading this brought back so many familiar feelings that I put to rest many years ago. To have lived through such a hellish time and place and come to the place where you are now, where your words evoke peace, beauty, spiritual wholeness is a modern day miracle. Your spiritual evolution is so evident in your work and is truly inspiring; testimony to the resiliency of the human spirit.

    The closest I ever came to writing about my own personal hell is in the following short piece. Of course, my writing is primitive compared to yours and others here, but I’m satisfied within because my writing has expunged the negative feelings I had for so many years. Of course, the following is not the catharsis for relieving all my tortured imaginings, but you know this already. ;> It was written more than 20 years ago.. when I was a younger pup..:)

    Pax domini ..vobiscum (Father)

    You, mild mannered man (crave me),
    your quick temper hid from all (save me),
    watch communion plate pass hand to
    hand Old Woman mutters what a good man
    humble Loving Father lucky woman that she is –
    forgive us our sins Preacher man!
    Every Sunday starts out righteous – thank God!
    for Wednesday nights are voices
    crashing through closed doors
    sharp as cracking! whips! and talk-in-tongues!
    (heralding the binge once more)
    O heavenly Jesus, save me
    from your mild mannered man,
    for I know only contempt –
    holding his false image to my face –
    wear your mask.

  9. Thanks. I was looking for something that allows for longer lines so that it wouldn’t break up my longer lines. Line breaks are a very important part of poetry on the page.
    Thanks for looking in!

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