Linda Marie Van Tassell

(Lynchburg, Virginia)

Stephanie's Song


She slips into thought, into that secret hiding place
in the back of her mind, soaking up the morning rain
as if she were thirsting for the grief which paints her face
in shades of rose and fills her eyes with incessant pain.

I can see the weight of the world upon her shoulders
as it presses her down into her own private hell.
Her soul is seething; and the fire of sorrow smolders,
smothering her with a sadness that I know so well.

The branches of her lineage are of a felled tree.
She stands divided between the present and the past,
and elements of regret mark her anatomy
so that she appears to age unreasonably fast.

In my eyes, I can still see her as that little girl
with her navy and white plaid pants and her short-cropped hair
and the quick way that her temper tantrums would unfurl
as a whirlwind of rage tossing punches in the air.

I distill my spirit within the tip of my pen
letting my sorrow drift like fog across the pages.
She buries the rootlet of the willow deep within,
letting it fester and strangle her through the ages.

I slip into the silence of a broken-down dream
relinquishing the cross that I have shouldered for years
and blend into the essence of that singular stream
as clouds are canonized within the weep of her tears.

She cries for a mother who has tumbled into death
and for a father who never wanted nor could be.
She cries for the willow that weeps with every breath
whose branches bend beneath the weight of what you can’t see.

The weight of the world is like a pebble in my hands
where memories blossom into darker shades of gray,
and I toss it into the river’s watery strands
hoping it will carry all of her burdens away.

Submitted: Saturday, December 14, 2013
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