Sometimes we have to jump out of the literary mainstream to remember where it all begins. I was recently asked to judge poetry submissions for a 7th grade Enrichment Class instructed by Beverly Hills freelance writer Maggie Lane. The students had to write an original poem in imitation of a published poem. Thinking it would be fun, I pounced on the chance to review what I thought would be sweet and adorable elementary verse. How could I ever have known that these poems would in fact be mature, engaging works that left me speechless?
Read the winning submission below and you’ll appreciate the difficulty of my task.
A Wife’s War by Riley (In imitation of “Father’s Day” by James Tate)
My husband has been at war for a number
of months now. He is in the army, and his commander
won’t let him communicate often with his children or
me. He lives on hope and one day soon coming
to see his family. He has terrors in the night constantly. The commander,
his enemy, whips him with cruel words when he catches him writing.
The never-ending war won’t let him out of its sight.
I asked his comrade about my husband, but he was unaware
of any situation. I have written millions of letters
to my husband. I haven’t heard back from him.
I never said goodbye to him. I was too
angry at him. He asked me if he should go. I said,
“Yes.” I can’t believe I said it. He always called me princess, because
he loved me, and I never said goodbye, and I never forgave myself.
War did not define him.
* For the original poem: Father’s Day by James Tate
– Post by Megan Shaffer